Discover The Many Benefits Of Allergy Free Foods

In: Health and Fitness

14 Jun 2010

If you have a food allergy, you know that it is essential to avoid the allergen that you have a reaction to. You also know how quickly adverse reactions can occur, and how serious they may become. No matter how careful you are, allergens can be found in products where you least expect them. One of the benefits of allergy free foods is knowing precisely what you are getting in the products you eat.

Approximately 2 percent of adults and between 4 and 8 percent of children have allergic reactions to one or more foods. In the last decade there seems to have been an increase in the numbers of younger people with allergies. Each year, around thirty thousand Americans have food allergy responses acute enough to go to an emergency room. All this points to the fact that it is critical to control your food intake with regard to the substance or substances that produce the allergy.

It often takes only a few minutes, and almost always less than an hour, for an adverse reaction to a food allergen to occur. The reaction may be minor, such as an itching of the mouth or on other parts of the body, or severe enough to cause death if not treated immediately, as in anaphylactic shock. There is no way to cure food allergies, though children, and sometimes adults, do outgrow them with time.

Approximately 90 percent of all food allergies are caused by eight foods. These are fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, egg, milk, tree nuts and peanuts. Obviously, one can fairly easily avoid some of them, such as shellfish or fish. Others, however, being included as ingredients in other products, are less obvious. Wheat, egg, milk and soy are used widely in many different products. Even foods such as chocolate candy and Asian condiments may include peanuts, a major allergen for many.

In 2004, the United States Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. This law made it mandatory for food manufacturers to disclose on their product labels any of the eight major food allergens that were part of the food being sold. However, the companies were not required to state whether the facilities used for one product also were used in processing other foods containing known allergens.

Cross-contact statements are being including by some manufacturers on their labels voluntarily, but there is still the potential for allergic problems to be incurred when buying food items manufactured for the general population of consumers. It may take only a very small amount of an allergen to cause serious problems for someone sensitive to it. Foods processed specifically with the needs of the food allergy sufferer in mind will have far less probability of containing unwanted allergens.

Of course, it is always possible to contact a food manufacturer about the possibility of cross-contact with allergens in a specific process, or with respect to whether a particular substance is included in a product. However, when a company focuses specifically on producing products that are free of allergens and cross-contamination, there is a higher level of assurance concerning food safety. The benefits of allergy free foods include the knowledge that you and your loved ones with food allergies are at less risk for unexpected allergic problems.

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