In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million people suffer from food allergies. Allergic reactions can generally occur within minutes after ingestion of food allergens. Anaphylactic reactions include hives, shortness of breath, swelling of the tongue, lips and airway, and sometimes even death. Reactions should be taken seriously and require immediate medical attention.
Food allergies most often occur when the immune system overreacts to certain substances that are otherwise harmless. Most common food allergens are proteins and account for 90% of all allergic reactions.
MOST COMMON ALLERGENS ARE:
- Tree nuts
Examples: Walnuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts
Individuals with food allergies should always carry, and know how to administer, a prescribed epinephrine pen (epi-pen) for emergency situations.
Always read labels on food packages carefully. If a desired food product does not contain an ingredients list, do not eat it. While dining out, ask if specific allergy causing ingredient(s) are used in food preparation. The only way to avoid a reaction is to completely avoid food allergens.