Food Allergies: They’re Real and They Kill

Posted by Admin | Posted in Be Healthy, CDC, Food Allergy, Food Safety, FYI, In the News, Kids | Posted on 06-09-2012

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Peanut Butter

The rule was always clear-cut and final: No nuts or peanut butter of any kind in the house. End of discussion. As one who loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I certainly had to give up something I loved for someone I loved even more. Having a brother who could not even be in the same room as nuts, I learned quickly that allergies are not something to take lightly. Unfortunately, those who do not deal with allergies on a daily basis sometimes do not understand the incredible, and very real, dangers that certain foods can pose to those with food allergies.

Individuals, particularly children, can have allergies to a variety of foods. Some foods are more well-known for allergies than others. Amy M. Branum and Susan L. Lukacs, from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, write “Eight types of food account for over 90% of allergic reactions in affected individuals: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Reactions to these foods by an allergic person can range from a tingling sensation around the mouth and lips and hives to death, depending on the severity of the allergy.” Obviously, those who associate with people with allergies must take them very seriously. This includes parents, school employees, and restaurant employees.

Zanaida Gonzalez, in her article “Last Word: Food allergies cannot be taken lightly,” tells of a school that banned peanuts and required children to wash their hands and mouths before entering the classroom. Some parents were outraged, believing that the school was being extreme and paranoid. What some parents failed to realize is that a life was at stake. Wouldn’t any parent hope that others would do their part to ensure their child’s safety? Gonzalez puts it well when she says “I’m calling for a little more education on all our parts.”

So how can we, as parents, educators, or restaurant employees, become a bit more educated about food allergies? The following list gives just a few helpful hints:

  • When preparing food for others (or even just having others in your home), be aware of their food allergies.
  • Read food labels. Never assume that an ingredient may or may not be in the food you are eating or serving.
  • If you have a child with allergies, talk openly with that child and his or her educators, cafeteria workers, etc. (everyone involved in that child’s life) about the risks and dangers involved with allergies. Discuss ways to effectively and safely handle that child’s food.
  • Always wash your hands when preparing food, especially if you are working with food your child is allergic to. Many people do not realize that by touching a peanut (or any food that causes a reaction) and then touching another food, they have just contaminated it. Any contact between the foods (even if it just came from your fingers or cutting board) can lead to disastrous results. Better yet, do not have foods that your child or family member is allergic to in the house. Better safe than sorry.
  • If you eat out, make sure your server and those in the kitchen know of the severity of the allergy and make sure there has been no cross-contamination.
  • Make sure that your child has an EpiPen (a shot of epinephrine) in case of an emergency. These shots can save a person’s life if he or she has mistakenly eaten something that causes an allergic reaction.


–Angela Bond