Clearing the Air on Allergy Directories

The internet is full of allergy friendly sites and blogs. Allergy sufferers have long created lists of food companies they love, blogs they read, and other sites they have found helpful.

Best Allergy Sites was launched in early 2009 to bring these allergy friendly companies, sites, and blogs together with the sole purpose of being a portal into the community-the first stop for information on an allergy sufferers journey. To our knowledge, Best Allergy Sites was the first site of its kind to bring all of these resources together into one place in such a unique format.

In the spring of 2009 Rhonda Lewis and Jeff Ginsberg aka. AllergyMom and AllergyDad came on to the twitter scene. It became clear very quickly that they were working on an allergy site together called Allergy Sense, though not so clear as to exactly what the site was at the time. The main page asked for email addresses to be notified upon launch of the site. There were online discussions within the allergy community as to who Rhonda and Jeff were, whether AllergyMom and AllergyDad were married (they are not), and whether they had allergic children (AllergyDad does not).

Since AllergyMom and AllergyDad were active on twitter promoting the launch of their site and asking for email addresses without yet sharing what their site was about, some in the allergy community became uneasy. Several individuals in the allergy community did a few internet searches that turned up some interesting results.

Jeff Ginsberg at the time was listed as the domain owner of Allergy Sense (currently the domain has been switched into Rhonda’s name), had some 20+ other domains registered to his name, and is an email marketer by profession owning what appears to be The Email Company/The Email Guide. Many wondered what an email marketer without allergies or children with allergies was doing founding an allergy company and calling himself AllergyDad.

At about this time, the Allergy Sense website released a Media Kit outlining their plans as what appeared to be a directory of allergy friendly companies for the allergy community dubbing themselves “The Only Allergy Directory in North America”. (At the time of writing this, the media kit is currently unavailable on the Allergy Sense website.) According to the media kit, for a fee ranging upwards of several hundred dollars-companies could register their business to be listed in the Allergy Sense directory. Since the directory had yet to launch, there was no proof of ROI-return on investment. (Ironically The Email Guide is a directory for email marketers and service providers and seems to have a similar price structure to that which was listed in the Allergy Sense Media Kit.)

A member of the allergy community saw the media kit and recognized a video that she had made on the actual media kit. She immediately emailed Rhonda Lewis to let her know that she was not very comfortable with it being used, especially since permission was never asked nor credit was ever given. The video was eventually removed and a blog apology was written by Rhonda, though both parties seemed to disagree on the time line of events.

This incident spurred discussions in the allergy community regarding content on the Allergy Sense blog/website and another community member mentioned a similar incident had happened to her prior to the video incident that had also eventually been rectified. Many in the community wondered if this was a consistent business practice.

In the interest of moving forward and clearing the air, I recently emailed Rhonda to find out exactly what Allergy Sense is all about. While she offered to speak by phone, I declined as I felt it important to keep all the facts in writing. Rhonda responded via email stating the following:

“The business idea started about 2 years ago by myself and another mom.”

“It is our goal to help promote businesses that are food allergy friendly and aware.”

“You asked too about Jeff – He is someone that we worked with to assist with some technical work. His full time work is in the field of email marketing and he is no longer involved in Allergy Sense.”

“Michelle and I are working together on the day to day business. She has a technical background with over 15 years experience in New York managing technology projects for large companies. She has had more of a technical role over the past several months designing our site and preparing for our launch. However, if you follow our blog, you will see more and more from her over the coming months.”

“Our directory will launch shortly – we are in the final stages of coding so I think some of your other questions about our directory will be answered upon site launch.”

“Feel free to share this response with anyone you wish.”

Upon receiving this email I had some further questions that I emailed to Rhonda. To date I have not heard a response. Following were my questions:

1. Has Michele been involved with Allergy Sense from the beginning and in what capacity (ie is she the mom you said you started the bus. with)? And why has she not had a more prominent role if the two of you started the business together?

2. Can you confirm again that Jeff is absolutely no longer connected or affiliated with Allergy Sense in any way?

3. Being in Canada, why is your site not Canadian based/focused and is US based/focused instead?

These questions arose out of what seem to be factual inconsistencies over the past few months. Some of which are the fact that Michele currently has no blog posts on Allergy Sense and that Jeff Ginsberg Linkedin page currently claims himself as the co-founder of Allergy Sense.

What does all of this mean? Nothing really. As stated in the title, this post and my email to Rhonda was to clear the air and get what I hoped to be truthful information directly from the source regarding Allergy Sense, the goal of the site, and recent events; not only for myself but for those in the allergy community.

Since the Allergy Sense site/directory is currently not live with the exception of a blog, I can not comment on what it is or is not.

I can only comment on the practices we follow and what we do and have been doing at Best Allergy Sites since our site went live in Feb of 2009.

When dealing with food allergy companies, products, and websites; I encourage readers to do their research and make informed choices as to what products and sites they use. Click here for an article on ways to spot the best allergy friendly companies and websites.

Click here for an FAQ on Best Allergy Sites.

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