Some Insights Into Food Allergies Awareness Week
For Food Allergies Awareness Week, which started May 10, we’d like to remind families who have children with food allergies or food intolerances that label-reading is incredibly important.
Though over-purchasing and food hoarding are not recommended in the age of COVID-19, it is important for those with food issues to make sure they have a stock of safe products on-hand, according to Gina Salvatori, a registered dietitian with CHC Solutions, Inc.
“Label reading is a must at all times for a person with food allergies – it is even more important, however, when you may be relying on someone else to do your shopping,” Salvatori said. “If you have your groceries delivered or picked up curb-side these days, you should check the labels of all pre-packaged foods before putting them away to ensure nothing has changed with your safe products and you haven’t been given a wrong item by mistake.”
Read every label, every time. This is especially important now, with COVID-19, that you also wipe down foods – to eliminate cross-contact or contaminants — before putting them in your pantry, Salvatori said.
Did you know federal law now requires packaged food labels to list when one of the “top 8” or most common allergens is an intended ingredient?
As part of this law, the label does not need to declare “traces” of an allergen due to cross-contact during processing. (For example: traces of peanuts may be present due to peanuts being processed in the same plant.). Some manufacturers will use precautionary warnings but it is not the law; if you have any questions or concerns about a product, you should always contact the manufacturer, Salvatori said.
While we’re at it, let’s recap the “top 8” allergens:
- Tree nuts (walnuts or pecans)
- Shellfish (lobster, shrimp or crab)
And do you know the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?
“A food allergy is when your body’s immune system reacts to a food protein because it has mistaken that food protein as a threat,” Salvatori said. “A food intolerance is when your body may have difficulty digesting a certain food or type of food.”
The most common food intolerance is to lactose, which is the sugar that is found naturally in milk, Salvatori said. A reaction to a food allergy can vary in severity from a few hives or minor abdominal pain to the most severe: death. Reactions to food intolerances are not life- threatening, though they might cause severe discomfort.
*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.