Food Allergies: Top Tips

March 13, 2013

Struggling to navigate a new food allergy or just want some tips on how to re-communicate concerns to those around you? Here are some of SupermarketGuru’s tips

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, more than 11 million Americans suffer from food allergies; so if you are struggling to navigate new allergens or just want some tips on how to re-communicate concerns to those around you here are some of SupermarketGuru’s tips.

Eight food groups account for 90 percent of allergic reactions. They include peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc.), fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy, and wheat. There are a myriad of other things that can cause allergies for some people, including other foods, and food additives such as sulfites.

Look for "hidden" sources of allergens. Many vitamins and medications can contain allergens in their additives – always check with your doctor and or pharmacist to make sure your medications are right for you. Some flavored coffee, teas and other beverages may contain a cereal protein, which contains gluten. Always read ingredient labels, no matter how straightforward you think a food is.

At the deli counter, most "sectioned and formed" and processed deli meats contain all sorts of additives: corn syrup (corn allergy alert), whey (dairy allergy alert) and modified food starch which can be derived from corn, wheat, potato, rice or tapioca (you get the idea!) to mention few – not to mention the other dubious substances. Always read labels!

Be careful of cross-contamination, this can happen in a toaster, griddle, oven, on plates or directly from the food preparation that goes on right in front of your eyes at the market. Unfortunately it can come across as excessively picky, or just plain nuts, but when even trace amounts of an allergen can trigger a reaction, the gloves that made the last guy's sandwich should be changed before your meat or cheese is handled and the cutting board and knife cleaned or changed to be free from allergens.

Last but not least, keep in mind that pre-wrapped gourmet items are just as susceptible to those who are unaware of food allergies and how to clean up to prevent cross contamination. Be sure that those who handle your food are in the know about allergies. And if you are eating at a friends house it’s better to let them know ahead of time, see what you can bring, than be stuck feeling hungry or eating something that could jeopardize your health.