What’s The Latest On Food Allergies?
Patricia Zifferblatt | September 1, 2006

With our precious little ones going back to school, food allergies are an important topic--we want to protect our kids and their friends and classmates from harm, including dangerous reactions to foods. Over 11 million people in the U.S. suffer from food allergies, some of which can cause severe to life-threatening reactions. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), over 30,000 people are seen every year in hospital emergency rooms due to serious food reactions, and about 150 people die each year because they have eaten or become exposed to a food they should stay away from.

What foods are likely to cause allergies?
Experts estimate that 90% of food allergies resulting in doctor’s visits come from eight major food groups:
  • Milk/Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat/Gluten
This problem has increased dramatically with the increased consumption of packaged foods, some of which have not been adequately labeled and can contain undisclosed allergy-causing ingredients.

In January 2006, the FDA passed a law called FALCPA that requires all food manufacturers to correctly label all foods and to state whether the food “contains any or all” of the eight allergy-causing ingredients listed above. Therefore, those with known food allergies should be aware of what they eat and always read package labels before consuming a food.

What does FALCPA stand for?
It’s the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Act. For additional information on FALCPA, go to the FDA website for specific details.

What should I do if I think my child or I might have a food allergy?
Anyone experiencing any type of food sensitivity or negative reaction should see a doctor immediately. If the allergy is confirmed, carry the necessary allergy-alert and medications in case of an emergency. If it’s your child with the allergy, be sure your child’s school, daycare, and friends’ parents are aware of which foods may pose a danger.

Another important suggestion: if you experience food reactions, don’t assume a food is okay for you to eat. Always ask questions (nicely) to find out what is in a recipe before you eat it. You can say, “No, thank you,” before you put yourself in a dangerous situation.
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