Worried About Food Allergies? Here’s What You Need to Know Now

May 11, 2015

This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week! And the SupermarketGuru team wanted to help bring awareness to the issue by sharing our upgraded Food Allergy Buddy Card® and making sure you know all of the basics when it comes to food allergies.

This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week! And the SupermarketGuru team wanted to help bring awareness to the issue by first sharing our upgraded Food Allergy Buddy Card®. Anyone with food allergies knows that eating out can be one of the most nerve-racking experiences, and communicating allergens to servers is not always easy, but needs to be done. 

The Food Allergy Buddy® card is newly enhanced with more allergy selections to aid usability and allow you to make use of this great FREE resource. Whether using the card for yourself or your family and friends, we are excited to offer this feature. Just don’t forget to print and bring your Food Allergy Buddy® card with you whenever you dine out!

Here are some basics about food allergies you should know:

More than 15 million people suffer from food allergies, according to Food Allergy Research & Education, including six million children.

Eight food groups account for 90 percent of allergic reactions: 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 food additives such as sulfites.

Did you now a food allergy is an immune system response to a food the body mistakenly believes is harmful? When a person with a food allergy eats the food, his or her immune system releases excessive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, that trigger a cascade of symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal tract, the skin, and, or the cardiovascular system.

Although food allergy desensitizations and alternative food crop varieties are being studied, these are not yet proven treatments, so currently, strict avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction. Do note, trace amounts of an allergen can trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals.

A study in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology showed that seafood allergies are more likely to begin in adulthood, and it’s estimated that 6.5 million Americans have the allergy.

There are ways in which a label can state that it has possible allergens. This can be stated as "Contains _________" with the allergen listed in immediate proximity to the ingredient declaration. For example, "Contains soy and milk." Or an ingredient that contains one of the Major Food Allergens can contain an asterisk referring the consumer to a statement of explanation. For example, "whey" would be listed as "whey*" and would be followed by "*milk" after the complete ingredient declaration. Ingredients: Sugar, chocolate, whey*, coconut, *milk.

Look for "hidden" sources. Be careful of cross-contamination, this can happen in a toaster, griddle, oven, on plates or even sharing beverages. Many vitamins and medications can contain allergens in their additives – always check with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure they prescribe those that are safe. Some flavored coffees, teas and other beverages may contain a cereal protein which contains gluten. Always read ingredient labels.

Unfortunately, food allergy deaths do occur, even among persons with a history of mild reactions in the past.  9-1-1 must ALWAYS be called with every anaphylactic reaction. 

What is anaphylaxis? It is a serious allergic reaction that comes on quickly and has the potential to become life-threatening. Symptoms can develop rapidly after exposure to an allergen, often within minutes and usually within 30 minutes. However, it can take up to 2 hours for symptoms to occur after exposure to a food allergen. 

In order to stay safe when dining out, don’t forget SupermarketGuru’s Food Allergy Buddy Card®.