Safe-for-Me Products: The List of What I Use

Last updated November 2017. 

I have been hesitant to publish a list of what I use.  Sensitivities vary so wildly and there is no such thing as a list of foods that will work for everyone with a corn allergy. For that reason, I’ve erred on the side of being overly cautious to avoid causing someone a reaction. But PLEASE try any product with caution, no matter who is recommending it. The first trial should be only a very small amount and always with rescue meds and other safety precautions prepared, including someone around to help in case of reaction.

This is a product list with some hints at how I locate safe produce. For the specific list of what kinds of produce I can eat, see my “What I Can Eat” post.

Makeup

  • Bellaphoria– all of these products are corn safe, but I only *like* their eyeshadows.
  • Bella Terra– shimmers, eye pencils. Check ingredients. I have a reaction (rash and acne) to the powder foundations, but not sure if the issue is corn.
  • Coloresciece Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen Powder – I actually use this as regular makeup pretty often as I find that the medium matches my skin tone better than anything from bellaphoria. Check ingredients- not all of their products are safe. The exact product I have linked should be safe, but I guinea pigged it based on the ingredients list and didn’t contact the manufacturer.
  • 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara– The mascara is the only product I know is corn safe. It is *not* gluten free but I don’t seem to react to gluten near my eyes, only ingested.

Environmental Trigger Protection Products (Gloves and Masks)

  • Powder-Free Nitrile Gloves – Many brands may work but those are the exact ones I use. I wash my hands with safe soap after the gloves are on to get any  possible manufacturer residue off. I prepare food with these gloves on and have never reacted to the food because of it. Update 2014: The Costco brand powder free nitrile gloves work fine too, and are WAY cheaper.
  • I Can Breathe brand carbon filter mask. Update 1/27: I am now reacting to the new removable coconut-based filters for these masks. I now prefer the VogMask both for appearance and function.
  • VogMask n99 CV and Vogmask N99 C2V. I wear size Medium.  More info on sizing here. You can’t fully wash these masks because soaking the built-in filter with water will ruin the activated carbon.  The filter portion of it is fine for me out of the box, however the cloth strip around the edge that holds the whole thing together makes my face itch, and sometimes the material of the outside of the mask “smells funny” to me. To deal with the itchy cloth, I get a faucet running and hold the edges under the stream and scrub at it with my fingers, then hang it on a doorknob to dry. Once it’s dry,  I stick the whole thing in my back jeans pocket and walk around like that for a day, the warmth of my butt removes any chemical smell from the mask. This works with everything except those velvety ones that just smell weird to this day. Yes, I did just recommend using your butt to *remove* scent from an item. Any other way you have to get it warm but not too hot for several hours should work fine, I just find my back pocket convenient. Here’s a longer explanation of why I use this particular one and what it does and doesn’t help me with.
  • 3M Half Facepiece Respirator with  the  3M 60926 Multi Gas Filter Cartridges. I got this for heavier chemical & allergen exposures than the vogmask n99 can help with, however I have not used it for this purpose to see how much more effective it is. I got this product from someone who is MUCH more chemically reactive than me and believe that it will help far more than the vogmask, I just so far choose to avoid anything that the vogmask can’t handle.  I needed to air out the respirator portion of this for weeks before being able to put it on my face, it smelled strongly of plastic to me. Now that it’s been wiped down and aired out, I can wear it and the filters without having reactions to the mask or cartridges.

Personal Care Products

I make most of my my own body products. Recipes can be found here.

  • DoTerra Clear Skin Topical Formula (affiliates link) – This doesn’t prevent acne but I find it helps a LOT for clearing it up once it starts. I get acne as an allergic reaction so this is a huge breakthrough for me.
  • Karlin’s Finest Baking Soda (for ingestion and personal care, bought at my local co-op)
  • Gluten Free Savonerrie liquid castile soap. (NOT coconut free.)
  • Desert Essence Tea Tree Tooth Tape – waxed with bees wax. I don’t react.
  • beeswax pastilles from Mountain Rose Herbs
  • Desert Essence jojoba oil
  • NOW brand jojoba oil
  • NOW brand castor oil
  • NOW shea butter
  • Mountain Rose Herbs shea butter
  • Mountain Rose Herbs cocoa butter (topical only though it is food grade)
  • Mountain Rose Herbs tamanu oil
  • Young Living and Native American Nutritionals essential oils (check to make sure they are steam distilled, not solvent extracted.) Other oils may be safe, those are just the ones I use. NOTE: These oils can be triggers for anyone with scent sensitivity including those with mast cell disorders. Try with caution and please be aware that others around you may react to the scents if you wear them!
  • zinc oxide powder- non-nano only. I ordered some random stuff that I didn’t do any research on other than to know it did not contain nano particles, so I’m not saying which brand because I don’t trust it necessarily.
  • titaniuim dioxide powder – I ordered some random stuff from Amazon and it seems fine, but not linking it because I did no research.
  • Amazing Herbs Black Cumin Seed Cold-Pressed Oil (topical only)
  • Bentonite Clay – Detox Clay Powder from Living Clay Company

Cleaning Products

And of course, I also make a lot of my own cleaning products. Recipes here.

Household supplies

  • Paper Towels: unpaper towels, and also the Kirkland brand of paper towels from Costco
  • Kleenex: handkerchiefs
  • Napkins: cloth napkins
  • Cotton balls: reusable cotton rounds
  • Toilet paper: Scott Tissue 100, regular (not extra soft)
  • Trash bags: Glad tall kitchen drawstring bags. (I don’t react to those but doubt they are safe for everyone)
  • Q-tips: store brands have all been fine for me so far
  • Cookware: Glass, stainless, and enameled cast iron. I want things that will come completely clean if unsafe food comes into contact with them.
  • Bakeware: I don’t do much baking these days due to having no safe flours, but I have been using pyrex and anchor hocking glass baking dishes and silpat and fox run brand silicone baking mats.  I also use any old brand of aluminum foil successfully, though I don’t use it *often*.
  • Utensils: Silicone.
  • Blender: BlendTec -There are a number of high powered blenders out there. This is the one I got,but if I had to do it over again I might go for the much cheaper Ninja. Suffice it to say that I really do think that with this allergy you are going to WANT a blender that is capable of more than your average Oster. Here is a brief overview of the options out there.

A note on silicone: There are some questions about the safety of silicone bakeware. The conclusion so far is that it seems relatively safe but there just haven’t been many studies done.  With respect to a corn allergy, one thing you’d want to worry about would be whether the cheaper silicone items could have corny fillers and dyes. Additionally it is important to note that silpats (which I use and happily)  are actually fiberglass coated in silicone, so you might want to avoid using a pizza cutter or sharp knife on your silpat.

Food Storage

I try to go with glass over plastic and when I store in glass I try not to let the food touch the lids.

  • Anchor Hocking TrueSeal Glass Storage
  • Pyrex Bake & Storage Glassware
  • Mason Jars- for fridge, shelf, and even freezer. I also eat soup out of mason jars.. I’ve found that many beer coozies will stretch to fit over a mason jar, so I freeze my soup in the jars, then microwave them still in the jars and slip a coozy over to insulate while I eat it.
  • Mason jar lids:  the bpa-free Ball brand canning lids contain a corn-contaminated resin and are NOT safe. I personally have been able to store non-canned foods using these lids so long as I don’t boil the jar and melt the resin, but this is a dangerous game. Some options for storage lids are:
    • Eco Jarz stainless storage lids (I haven’t tried this brand, so please do your own research)
    • Ball plastic storage caps (NOT water tight!)
    • Turning the regular canning lids upside down so that the resin doesn’t touch the food. (This only helps if you don’t react to touching the resin, which some do.)
  • FoodSaver brand vacuum bags – other brands may safe but have not been vetted by anyone. Anything made from plastic can be dusted with corn starch or made with corn-derived plastic.
  • Ziplock Brand Bags – UPDATE: Recently Ziploc released a new “easy open tab” on all of their bags, and when they did this, the plastic of the bag itself changed texture. A couple of the *most* sensitive people have reported reactions while many are still using them safely.
  • Ziplock brand “slider” bags.  Storage and freezer, all sizes. These are working for me still but reactions have been reported.
  • Cling film: Berry Plastics “Omnifilm” 12″ roll, 5000 ft. Item # J820340.  Box E0452, UPC 709411 27245 6 – I do not buy this for home although I’m going to try soon, but the shop I buy cheese from uses it and it’s the first I’ve found that I’ve not reacted to.
  • Aluminum foil: I have only ever tried good old Reynolds brand, and it works for me and many others. There are totally possibilities for aluminum foil to be corny, so try cautiously.

Cooking Fats

Spices/Herbs

For the most part I try to use herbs that are fresh from specific vendors at the farmers market or my own garden. I dry and store them for the winter. I plan to trial some more pre-packaged spices soon but it hasn’t been a priority as I have a very short safe list otherwise.

Salt

  • Himalayan pink salt, bought in large blocks intended for salt-plate cooking. I rinse them under water for 3-5 minutes then let them dry, then use a very HUGE mortar and pestle intended for making guacamole to whack off chunks and break them up into grinder-sized pieces. I have eventually reacted to every pre-ground salt, so this is how I have to do it.

Vegetables/Fruits

At this time I am am *mostly* eating fruits and vegetables from specific local vendors at the farmers market. These are vendors that I have talked with and determined that they use practices that work for me allergywise. (For ideas on what questions to ask, reference Where’s the Corn in Foods? and this awesome list of questions.) I do have just a couple of grocery store items I can eat, and then there are a couple of items I mail order away for because it is easier than finding them safe locally. There are also just a few items that I have discovered I can eat only if I grow them myself, mostly root vegetables, because the  organic fertilizers that folks are using are problematic for me. Not sure if that is for corn reasons or what.

General advice about asking questions of farms: Check about the spray status of *each* crop, as different plants will have different possible issues. For example,  in my area squash,pole beans, and eggplants have powdery mildew issues and may be sprayed with a certified organic spray for that. Brassicas (like broccoli) may have pest issues during the hot months that will decimate a crop in a day, but do not have these issues in winter, so cabbage from the same farm may be unsafe in summer but safe in winter, or may be intermittently unsafe in winter since they are selling a mix of new plantings and heads that were planted in summer. On the other hand, some crops like peppers that are resistant to these issues may not be.  To complicate things more, the microclimate may vary between farms even if they are relatively close together, so they may face different issues and use different methods. Ask about sprays a few different ways- Often people are accustomed to answering questions from the perspective of toxicity or general safety, and will reply that they don’t “do anything” to a crop, when they mean they don’t do anything *toxic* to it.  Something that works for me is to just ask them about whether a specific plant is pretty hardy or if it’s susceptible to blight or pests, and how they deal with that.

Mail Order Fruits & Veggies

  • Chaffin Family Orchards – Citrus fruit and raw/uncured olives to cure yourself. The pre-pressed olive oil is NOT safe.
  • Rancho Charanda Citrus Ranch –  So far everything I’ve tried from them (citrus, dragon fruit, cactus fruit) has been safe for me.
  • Flying Grand Ranch – Citrus fruit and avocados.  *UPDATE Feb 2016* – Some reactions reported to the navel oranges. We don’t know why. You *must* ask them to not wash your fruit, or they will wash them in corny white vinegar. Usually once you tell them once they remember each time, but it’s good to check every time anyway.

From Local Farms

Note that these foods are subject to seasonal availability, so it is very important that I buy extra and preserve while they are available. All items must be spray free. Fertilizer seems to only matter for items that grow below the ground our touch the ground. Items that are co-grown with corn are a problem for me, and during corn harvest season anything that is even transported on a truck with corn I react to. As much as possible, I avoid farms that also grow corn.

  • Leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, pole beans, peas: Spray free. Fertilizer does not seem to be not a very big problem with items that grow above the ground.
  • Pomme Fruits (apples, pears, quince)- Mineral/kaolin clay is okay for me if I peel them, but not others. My first-safest vendor uses poultry to control bugs on his apples. My second safest vendor is not organic but sprays once before the fruit buds and not again later. The certified organic folks often spray their organic pest repellents several times throughout the season, coating the fruit in the corn-based solvent/coating agents used to make the repellent stick. If the fruit itself has been sprayed with anything, organic or not, there is usually an issue.
  • Stone Fruits (peaches, apricots, plums, cherries) – Similar to above, but these fruits are very prone to mold in our area, especially cherries. >Late in the season, bags may be used to line the fruit boxes that are either dusted with corn starch or have an antimicrobial coating.
  • Berries – Spray free. U-pick if possible because the packaging can be corny. More info here. 
  • Mushrooms, grown on sawdust. More on how mushrooms can be corny.

Grown Myself (Curently this should probably be read as, “stuff I *could* eat if I didn’t suck at gardening.)

  • All root vegetables.

I seem to have an unusual amount of troubles with foods that grow below the ground. I believe this is because the certified organic fertilizers many farmers use contain corn based preservatives like citric acid, and those that simply use animal manure still feed their animals some corn. I am still working out what the parameters are for safety for myself. So far using NO fertilizer results in root vegetables I can eat, but very low crop yields. Like, my last attempt I got about as many potatoes as I planted.  (boo) But they were safe. (yay)

From the Grocery Store (all items organic, unwaxed, and not packaged in any kind of plastic bags or wrap, however I may be getting lucky with if and what kinds of sprays or fungicides are being used. Your mileage may vary depending on your sensitivities and the suppliers for your particular store)

  • grapefruit (organic, unwaxed, ungassed)
  • lemons (organic, unwaxed, ungassed- I never eat the zest, only use the juice) (I react to these occasionally and just wait until they have a new batch and can usually have them again.)
  • limes (organic, unwaxed, ungassed)

Meat/Protein sources

  • Chicken (custom processed, not corn fed)
  • Beef (custom processed, not corn fed)
  • Lamb  (custom processed, not corn fed)
  • Shellfish (local, pulled direct from the water and only kept on ice)
  • In-Shell Walnuts from a private distributor.   Sorry, I am working on a new publicly available mail-order source but currently do not have one. I have reacted to in-shell walnuts from many orchards that claim don’t spray, and have reacted to all shelled nuts, ever.  I keep the walnuts in the freezer until I eat them so they don’t mold. Yes, it takes up a lot of freezer space. Yes, cracking them is labor intensive. I do it anyway.

Sweeteners

  • A few local honeys. (questions to ask)
  • Honey from Sunny Honey Co – ONLY the 12 oz sizes and larger as the smaller jars are sanitized with unsafe cleaners. I reacted to the raspberry blossom and sweet clover. I have tried and done well with: moses lake wildflower, fireweed, buckwheat blossom, maple blossom, blackberry blossom, coriander blossom. I reacted to pumpkin blossom but believe it is corn safe as others have tolerated. I am allergic to pumpkins.
  • Maple syrup from Patterson Farms. The defoamer is heavy cream.
  • Maple Syrup from Sugar Maple Farms. They use no defoamer at all.  I have only tried the plastic jugs not the glass jars, and do okay with them.

Baking Ingredients

  • none at this time. Lost the cocoa powder sometime in 2013 and don’t really know why.

Beverages

  • Tea- I am tolerating the teas from Mountain Rose Herbs in the 4oz cellulose packaging. The larger packages are in craft paper bags lined with corn PLA and I react to those. I personally can only do the black and oolong teas (except the Kumaon variety, but don’t know why) but I think this is a separate sensitivity and has to do with how black vs green tea is processed. I have not been able to do any herbal teas from MRH and I don’t know if that’s corn or another sensitivity.

Cheeses

NOTE: Packaging is a HUGE problem with cheese. Many/most plastic wraps are either dusted with corn starch or in some other way are corny and cause a massive reaction. Additionally the surface cleaners and disinfectants that many shops will use will contaminate cheese. I happen to have completely lucked out and found a local shop (Metropolitan Market in West Seattle) that uses products that are okay for me. The same chain but a different shop (Bellevue) is NOT safe for me. So finding the cheese itself is only half the problem. Less than half. For items like the Herve Mons Emmental, the wheel is something like 150-200lbs, so ordering the whole wheel is probably not reasonable unless you have a HUGE group buy.

  • Kirkland Isigny St Mere brand grass-fed Brie. This cheese is grass fed in summer but the cows are supplemented with grain in winter, and the grain surely contains corn. I still do great with it. NOTE: I have pulled this due to an intolerance reaction- I do not think the cheese is corny but I think it may be soy or gluten contaminated.
  • Herve Mons St Nuage cheese – It’s very ripe and VERY rich. It does not have the “stinky” bite like the camembert below but it’s still a bit more ripened than the Isigny brie.
  • Monte Enebro goat cheese from Spain. – This, like the other cheeses other than the Isigny, is very expensive.
  • Herve Mons Camembert– This one smells a bit like feet, so if you are not a stinky cheese fan, stay away. 🙂
  • Herve Mons Emmental –  This is a hard cheese, similar to Gruyere or a very aged swiss in flavor. Note: You MUST find someone who can cut and wrap this for you safely as the whole wheel is over 100 lbs!!!
  • Stagionata Pecorina Ricotta Salata from Sardinia- This is the “cheapest” of the imported cheeses. it is a fresh made with only sheep milk, salt, and whey, which is then aged until hard. The link is not where I buy it from, it’s just the most specific link I could find that showed what it was.
  • Vallee d’Aspe Ossau-Iraty raw sheeps milk cheese. This is a semi-hard aged cheese, think gouda more than extra sharp cheddar, with a very rich creamy, somewhat nutty flavor. I do not buy it from the seller I just linked, I get it locally.
  • The plastic wrap they use that is safe for me is: Berry Plastics “Omnifilm” 12″ roll, 5000 ft. Item # J820340.  Box E0452, UPC 709411 27245 6

Grilling Supplies

More info on grilling safety. 

Supplements

  • Pure Encapsulations methylfolate.
  • Pure Encpasulations adenosyl/hydroxy b12. Re-pasting the comment from the methylcobalamin from the same manufacturer due to frequent questions: The B12 is still grown on corn glucose, but the inactive ingredients are corn free. I am getting  away with it corn-wise. There is no b12 out there that is not grown on corn sugar unfortunately. If there is, please comment and let me know!
  • Pure Encapsulations Zinc 15 (11/2/2013)-  Only this specific Zinc. Other varieties such as Zinc 30 have corny ingredients.
  • Jarrow Pantothenic acid.   Cellulose is derived from pine; mg. stearate is palm; gelatin is beef-derived.
  • Jarrow Mag-Mind.  Cellulose is derived from pine; mg. stearate is palm; gelatin is beef-derived.
  • Jarrow B-Right.  Cellulose is derived from pine; mg. stearate is palm. Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose is from pine. Good news for those with MTHFR: Jarrow has updated their formula to ONLY contain quatrefolic rather than a mixture of quatrefolic and folic acid.
  • Pure Encapsulations D3- 5,000 iu and 10,000 iu – the capsule form only. I have issues with the liquid forms due to a coconut and palm allergy so have no idea on their safeness for corn.
  • Pure Encapsulations methylcobalamin. There are several varieties of this that contain corn derivatives. Only the one linked is safe. The B12 is still grown on corn glucose, but the inactive ingredients are corn free. I am getting  away with it corn-wise. There is no b12 out there that is not grown on corn sugar unfortunately. If there is, please comment and let me know! I have quit using it due to this form of B12 being a problem for me for genetic reasons, but leaving it here because it’s relatively corn-safe for me.

Medications

  • Twinlab Quercetin Plus C– vitamin C is from Sago Palm, stearic acid is from palm, quercetin is derived from a legume (reference post on FB group)
  • Jarrow Quercetin. Cellulose is derived from pine; mg. stearate is palm.
  • Maxi-flav pure quercetin powder. This can only be ordered by practitioners. I get it through my compounding pharmacy. What I get comes in a jar with just the pure quercetin powder from the bark of the Japanese Pagoda tree, with no inactive ingredients and no capsules. Scientific Botanicals is no longer in business. 😦
  • Compounded diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Compounded hydroxyzine Hcl (atarax)
  • Compounded cromolyn sodium (gastrocrom)
  • Compounded levocetirizine (Xyzal)
  • Compounded ketotifen fumarate.  This med is one that takes 11-16 weeks to show effectiveness and has some difficult effects during ramp up (fatigue/sedation). It can only be compounded in the united states as there is no major brand name manufacturer distributing it here.   Reference 1 – Reference 2 –  Reference 3
  • Compounded ranitidine (Zantac) – as needed

Corn Free Household and Cleaning Products

I am ashamed to say that I don’t clean that much. I should. I want to. I don’t like being filthy but remembering to do basic chores has never been my strong suit, even before allergy life.  I kept an okay house during my calmer times but any time I got in the least bit busy, the the dishes and laundry would pile up apallingly high before I did anything about them. Then my food allergies went out of control and I started having to spend a ton of time cooking, researching, and sourcing safe food on top of my full-time-and-then-some job.  So yeah, lately I don’t clean too much. Fortunately my wonderful boyfriend puts up with it and (usually) good-naturedly does way more than his fair share. Then every few months I go crazy cleaning All The Things to make up for my general slovenliness. Well, maybe it’s been more than a few by this point.

But here are the products that get used when cleaning happens.

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Advanced Corn Allergy Help: Tracking Down Mystery Reactions

Here’s the situation I was in a year ago: I had been corn and gluten free for 6 years, and thought I had it all figured out. Then suddenly I started having anaphylactic reactions to previously safe foods. I thought I must have a new allergen. In fact, I did have a few new allergens, but the one allergen that was causing the anaphylaxis was actually still corn. For many of the foods that I realized I was reacting to, I was able to eat another version of that food that was grown/processed without corn contamination.

If you know that you are allergic to corn, and find yourself reacting and confused because you think you are corn free, you may want to re-examine your food and household products for hidden corn. You may also have new allergens. It’s important for the sake of safety to examine all possibilities rather than dismissing any particular one without first exploring and testing.

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