Food Allergies 101

December 12, 2011

Do you suspect a food allergy? Well, Shopping with food allergies can be difficult, here are SupermarketGuru’s quick tips for shopping with an allergy

What are Food Allergies? A food allergy is an adverse immune response to a protein in a food or an ingredient that causes physical reactions that may include bloating, stomach discomfort, a rash, hives, difficulty in breathing, and sometimes can be fatal. Eight foods comprise 90 percent of food allergies (sometimes referred to as “the big eight”) milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy, and wheat.

How to Buy: Have a doctor perform a either a blood test, skin prick test, or elimination diet, to identify exactly what foods you have a reaction to. Read labels carefully and follow a strict diet. Avoid those products that say “may contain” or “produced in a plant that process allergens”. Most vegetables and fruits are allergy free; most grains and legumes are also (except soybeans for some people).

How to Read the Label: (1) Check whether the ingredient panel lists something to which you are allergic (2) Check whether the ingredients have changed since your last purchase, recipes often change as will the ingredients. (3) Check for a disclaimer on the package that the manufacturer makes other products with ingredients that are allergens for you or uses the words “may contain”; some products now carry a certification that the processing facility is verified to be 100% free from allergens – choose those products when available.

Smarter Shopping: About half of children with allergies to milk, egg, soy, and wheat will outgrow their allergy by the age of 6.

Resources: Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). Create a free Food Allergy Buddy Card for you or someone you love who has allergies.

For more on food allergies, view SupermarketGuru’s Allergy Friendly column.

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