Food Allergy Information

Please refer to my Equal Eats card for my exact list of food allergies.

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  • Food allergies affect as many as 32 million Americans, including 26 million adults and 5.6 million children.
  • A food allergy is an immune system response to a food the body mistakenly believes is harmful.
  • When a person with food allergy eats the food, his or her immune system releases massive 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.
  • There is no cure for food allergies.
  • The prevalence of food allergies appears to be increasing among children under the age of 18, that is 2 students in every classroom.
  • Although food allergy desensitizations are being studied, these are not yet proven treatments, so strict avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction.
  • Managing a food allergy on a daily basis involves constant vigilance.
  • Trace amounts of an allergen can trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals.
  • 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.

Source: FAACT - 10 FAACTS about Food Allergies

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Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that comes on quickly and has the potential to become life-threatening.

  • Food, latex, insect stings and medicines can cause a severe allergic reaction(6).
  • Anaphylaxis includes a wide range of signs and symptoms that can occur alone, or in combination, after exposure to an allergen.
  • 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.ย 
  • Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment, including an injection ofย epinephrineย and a visit to the emergency room. Anaphylaxis can be fatal if not treated promptly.ย 
  • Observation in a hospital for a period between 4 and 24 hours is recommended once the individual has returned to normal, due to concerns of biphasic anaphylaxis.ย 
  • If you or someone you know is at risk of anaphylaxis, two epinephrine auto-injectable devices must be carried at all time.

Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis

Symptoms of anaphylaxis can develop rapidly after exposure to an allergen, usually reaching peak severity within 5 to 30 minutes, but this may be delayed up to 2 hours. Sometimes, a second phase reaction (Biphasic Anaphylaxis) can occur 6-36 hours after the initial anaphylactic reaction in as many as 20% of individuals. Biphasic reactions have been reported to occur even as far out as 72 hours after the initial reaction, though this is rare.

Anaphylaxis signs and symptoms that may occur alone or in any combination include:

  • Mouth:ย swelling of the lips, tongues, or palate (roof of the mouth)
  • Eyes/Nose:ย runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, watery red eyes, itchy eyes, swollen eyes
  • Skin:ย hives or other rash, redness/flushing, itching, swelling
  • Gut:ย abdominal pain (a sharp, stabbing pain called colic), vomiting, diarrhea, nausea
  • Throat:ย hoarseness, tightening of throat, difficulty swallowing, hacking cough, stridor (a loud, high-pitched sound when breathing in)
  • Lungs:ย shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain, tightness
  • Mental:ย anxiety, panic, sense of doom
  • Circulation/Heart:ย chest pain, low blood pressure, weak pulse, shock, pale blue color, dizziness or fainting, lethargy (lack of energy)

Symptoms of the throat, lungs, and heart are all immediate and potentially life-threatening. When you, or someone you know, begin to experience symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Source: FAACT - Anaphylaxisย 

How To Prevent Cross-Contact and Accidental Environmental Exposure

Cross-contactย and environmental exposure are often cited as top concerns for families managing food allergies. Cross-contact can occur through incidental contact with utensils, pots and pans, and preparation surfaces. Environmental exposure can occur through contamination of surfaces and are widely thought to occur through inhalation of allergen. This is a particular concern at school and on airplanes.

The good news is that allergens can be readily cleaned from hands and body parts, cookware and utensils, and environmental surfaces. Following are helpful tips to prevent environmental contamination:

  • When cleaning surfacesย (such as desks, counters, tables, airline seats or tray tables, etc.), use a wipe that contains a commercial detergent (e.g., Cloroxยฎ, Lysolยฎ, etc), or apply a spray-on detergent (e.g. Formula 409ยฎ, Fantasticยฎ, Windexยฎย Multi-Surface, etc.) and vigorously wipe the area that has come into contact with the allergen.ย In a 2004 study, dish soap did not remove peanut allergen.
  • Run contaminated pots, pans, and utensils through a normal dishwasher cycle or wash them by hand with hot, soapy water and scrub the surfaces thoroughly. Use a sponge, scouring pad, or dish rag that has not come into contact with the allergen. Rinse and dry thoroughly with a clean towel. Avoid just wiping down a knife or common utensil with a rag after touching an allergen (a common practice at sandwich shops).
  • For washing hands or face, use warm/hot, soapy water or a commercial โ€œtidyโ€ wipe.ย Hand sanitizing gel is not sufficient to remove allergens.ย This is important in the healthcare setting, as most healthcare facilities have moved to near-exclusive use of hand sanitizing gels for infectious purposes.

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More info: Foodservice training

Source: FAACT - Cross Contact