If you suffer from food allergies, you may know from personal experience that it’s no light matter. Food allergies can be inconvenient at the least and fatal if serious enough. Avoiding food allergies is tricky, especially in today’s fast-paced world, but if you know what to look for and how to avoid it, dealing with your food allergies can be a lot simpler.
If a product contains common food allergens the FDA requires the allergens to be separately listed on the product. These common allergens consist of milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nut (almonds, cashews, walnuts), fish (bass, cod, flounder), shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp), soy and wheat. Food labels are required to identify food allergens regardless of the amount present in the food but they are only required to list the allergens that are considered an ingredient. Manufactures do not have to include if the food has been packaged in the same facility as other allergens or if there is a risk of cross contamination between the food and different allergens. Some manufactures voluntarily include specific warnings but these are not required and can sometimes be unclear.
Here are the top 5 food allergies people suffer from and how to best avoid them in your daily life.
1. Milk: In North America, about 2-8% of young infants have a milk allergy. The lactose present in the milk can cause intolerance but the proteins whey and casein present in milk are the main culprits of the allergy. (photo credit here)
2. Eggs: Another common childhood allergy is eggs. Again, this allergy is one that the majority of kids grow out of. Egg allergies can cause an individual to be intolerant to either the yolk, egg white or both. When I gave Easton eggs for the first time, he broke out with a small rash but I was told to try again in a few months and he had no reaction.
3. Seafood: Seafood allergies are common in adults. One usually has a negative reaction following the consumption of certain fish and shell fish. The allergic reactions associated with this allergen are usually severe and can be potentially fatal.
4. Peanuts and Tree nuts: Peanuts and tree nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts are allergens that can also cause severe reactions and sometimes even death. It’s important be mindful of this allergy at all times, as this is a prevalent allergy and a lot of people with this allergy can’t consume products even made in the same factory as peanuts and tree nuts. Always check the packaging to see if warnings are listed! Food Allergies: A Mother’s Nightmare is a must read! Explore what it is like parenting a child with food allergies.
5. Legumes and Pulses: Legumes and pulses like soy and wheat typically do not cause life threatening reactions but can be extremely irritating to an individual. The allergy is likely to start at a young age and can sometimes be out grown. (photo credit here)
The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to be cautious! Double check food labels, educate yourself on different manufacture’s products, know what is in the product and what other food is being produced in the same facility. If you are unsure, try your best to avoid the food all together or contact the manufacturer. For more information, read Food Allergies and Intolerances Decoded.