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Food Allergy Information

Managing Food Allergies at School

Managing Food Allergies at School.

Now that your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy, what are the vital steps in the prevention and management of your child’s allergy? How do I ensure my child is safe from allergens when at school or day care? How do I as a parent help managing food allergies at school or child care? Just the thought of what might happen can be cause for anxiety. Rest assured that schools and day care centres have qualified and trained staff. They also have action plans in the event that an accidental exposure has occurred. These include prevention measures as well.

First things first, talk with your child’s doctor to create an action plan tailored to suit your child’s needs. This action plan will include vital information in regards to the emergency treatment(s) your child will need in the event of a reaction. This information will include: Medication required, a photo of your child, epinephrine pen (Epipen/Anapen), doses, and emergency contacts. This action plan, once created, will need to be presented to your child’s day care centre or school. This should be placed in a prominent position, along with medications and Epinephrine pen.

Secondly, approach the school or day care centre. Talk to them about your child’s food allergy and what their policy is. This includes prevention, education, management, and responses to emergencies. Staff are usually trained in first aid, and know exactly what to do in an emergency.

Thirdly, you can purchase a medical alert bracelet, highlighting your child’s food allergies. Allow your child to become adjusted to wearing the bracelet whenever they aren’t at home. This is so it becomes second nature to wear the bracelet.

While at Day Care/Preschool.

If your child is at a child care facility, ensure staff use disposable cleaning cloths prior to mealtimes. This can help prevent cross-contamination.

Ask your child’s teacher to give a few days’ notice for any occasion at school that may involve food, such as a classmates’ birthday. Also, encourage your child’s teacher to avoid using food as a reward.

Ask your child’s teacher to check art supplies for any food related ingredients. This includes supplies such as paints, which may contain Gluten, etc.

Most schools and accredited day care centres are well equipped and trained for anaphylaxis. Despite this, they may need extra information in regards to prevention and recognising allergens.

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Food Allergy Information

How to avoid food allergies.

Reading food labels.

Since there’s no known cure for food allergies, they can often be severe with dire consequences. How do we avoid food allergies in our day to day lives? The only true (and safe) way is avoidance. How do we avoid food allergies? Understanding food labels is vital in successfully avoiding food allergens. In most countries, it is required by law to list potential food allergens in the ingredients list. Some countries, Australia for example, it is the law that food allergens are displayed in bold in the ingredients list. Also, food allergens must be listed near the ingredients list with a separate warning stating that the product either contains, or may contain, a food allergen.

So, what’s the difference between contains, and may contain? When a label says that this product contains milk for example, this means that milk, or a milk by-product is directly added as an ingredient. When a label says that this product may contain milk, this means that this product has been manufactured using equipment that is also used to make food that contains milk or milk products. This could pose a potential cross-contamination risk.

Avoid food allergies.

Avoiding these food products is an effective way of avoiding the allergens. This also does not mean you have to miss out on eating that type of food. Making your own food is a way of ensuring you don’t miss out on exciting foods you have grown to love. Also, you’ll know exactly what ingredients are used. This will bring you the satisfaction of making your own food from scratch. So, what alternatives are available for me to use? There are a huge variety of food allergy friendly foods and ingredients. Many of these weren’t readily available until recently. And with this additional supply, the associated costs of allergy friendly foods are becoming more affordable.

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Food Allergy Information

Food Labels

Food Labels – Making sense of the nightmare.

Food labels can be a nightmare, especially if you’re trying to avoid multiple food allergens. Learning how to identify possible allergens in food can be quite difficult, but hopefully we can help clear some of the confusion. In Australia and New Zealand, food labels concerning potential allergens are broken into two categories: mandatory inclusions, and voluntary information. Mandatory inclusions are the allergens written in bold, whereas voluntary information are listed after the ingredients list, usually written as “may contain traces of…”. So, what’s the difference?

Differences in allergen labelling.

Ingredients written in bold are included in the product, and by law must be clearly visible. On the other hand, this is where things get quite confusing. “May contain traces of…” is a blanket quote included by the manufacturer as a warning that the particular food was made on equipment used to make food that contains a potential allergen. The manufacturer cannot guarantee that a certain product is 100% safe, so as a guide they include this or a similar warning on their packaging. The potential for cross contamination is very real when a manufacturer makes multiple products on shared equipment.

It can be quite daunting at first, as we found out in the early days, but being armed with this vital information will empower you to be confident in spotting often hidden allergens in food. It can be rather confusing and a bit scary at first. Try practicing on food that you already have at home. See how different manufacturers provide potential allergy information. Do they suggest visiting their website? Do they have a hotline to ring? Companies welcome contact with their customers regarding allergies and often will list further information on their website. Fast food chains do this too. Food labelling has come a long way, with improvements always evolving.

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Food Allergy Information

Top 8 Food Allergies

The top 8 food allergies

The top 8 food allergies can sound a little scary, but it really isn’t. With a little time and some practice, remembering the allergens can be easy and rewarding. The top 8 food allergies includes just the most commonly found food allergies today.

Dairy Allergy

You will soon find out just how many ingredients cow’s milk can be made into. Milk allergies are one of the most common food allergies, and it is no wonder, as milk is broken down into an ever-growing list of by-products, which are then used as a cheap ‘filler’ ingredient in a lot of food.

Casein / caseinates, Dairy solids, Ghee, butter oil, butter fat, Hydrolysates (casein, milk protein, whey), Infant formula – cow’s milk based including partially hydrolysed (HA) formula, Lactalbumin, Lactoglobulin, Milk derivative, Milk protein, Milk solids, Non-fat dairy solids, Non-fat milk solids, Skim milk solids, Whey, Sour cream, and A2 milk.

As you can see, milk is broken down into so many components. Not only that, but milk is used in foods that would not normally constitute milk as an ingredient.

Egg Allergy

As eggs are a known allergen, it must be clearly labelled in bold. Here is a list of all the ingredient names eggs are known as:

Albumin, Avidin, Binder, Dried eggs, Egg, Egg solids, Egg substitutes (some), Egg white, Egg white solids, Egg yolk, Flavoproteins, Glaze (on baked goods), Globulin, Imitation egg product, Livetin, Lysozyme, Meringue mix, Ovalbumin, Ovglycoprotein, Ovomucoid, Ovomuxiod, and Powdered egg.

It’s no wonder avoiding a food allergy is such a nightmare when food manufacturers have at their disposal so many ingredients to choose from. It’s this reason that accidental contact can happen so frequently.

Gluten Allergies (includes Celiac Disease)

It still boggles the mind as to how many components a certain type of food can be turned into, so it’s perfectly understandable when Parents and/or Carers of a newly diagnosed child become confused or overwhelmed by the task of avoiding allergy triggers. We know, we’ve been there, and still are. And the daily nightmare of checking food doesn’t stop. Food manufacturers are always changing the ingredients they use, so a particular food that was considered safe last week, may not be safe this week, and vice versa. But we’ll endeavour to help make it easier to identify allergens and their sometimes sneaky names. These include:

Atta Flour, Bulgar, Burghul, Couscous, Cracker meal, Durum, Farina, Gluten, Graham flour, Kamut, Matzoh, Seitan, Semolina, Spelt, Tabouleh, Triticale, Wheat, Wheat bran, Wheat flour, Wheat germ, Wheat meal, Wheat starch, and Whole wheat berries.

It’s easy to see why it can be confusing. While some names are obvious, others are not.

Peanut Allergy

Peanut allergies are common in young children (1 in 50), and can even develop later in life, so it is important to know how to correctly identify peanuts in the foods we eat. It’s kinda scary when all it takes is a trace amount of Peanut protein to cause an allergic reaction, this emphasizes the importance of being able to identify the allergen. These include:

Arachis oil, Beer nuts, Goober nuts, Groundnuts, Madelonas, Mixed nuts, Monkey Nuts, Nu-nuts, Nut pieces, Nutmeat, Peanut, Peanut butter, Peanut oil, and Peanut sprouts.

As you can see, it is a fairly long list, but thankfully not as long as for the other allergens. Here’s a short list of the types of food that can include Peanuts:

African dishes, Asian/Indian dishes, Biscuits, Breakfast cereals, Chocolates, Dried fruit mixes, Gravy, Health food bars, Ice creams, Lollies, Marzipan, Mexican dishes, Nougat, Praline, Pesto, Salad/salad dressing, Sauces, Snack foods, Soup, and some vegan dishes.

Peanuts are usually found in such a wide variety of foods; it can be surprising at times. Learning how to accurately read food labels is a lifelong skill that can help prevent accidental exposure.

Seafood Allergy

Seafood seems a rather easy allergy to manage, but as always when dealing with food allergies, it’s always more complicated. When it comes to Seafood, Shellfish gets the most publicity, yet Seafood Allergy can be caused by just about any fish. Seafood Allergy can affect more adults than children and can be a lifelong allergy. That’s why it’s important to learn what types of Seafood can trigger a reaction. Now, according to ASCIA, it’s not just Shellfish that causes reactions. Scaly fish can be added to the list of Seafood that’s a no-go for allergy sufferers. Some people can be allergic to scaly fish, while being able to eat Prawns, or vise-versa.

Fish Allergy

Fish allergy is an easy allergen to identify. It includes all scaly fish, from both fresh waters and the ocean.

Shellfish

Shellfish allergy differs from fish allergy as it only includes seafood that has its own shell. For example, shellfish would mean Prawns, Crab, and lobsters.

Soy allergies

This food allergy could prove to be the hardest allergy of them all to avoid. It is used as an ingredient in nearly every food. Soy has been getting some negative publicity in recent years. In all honesty, if you’re not allergic to Soy, it is a rather healthy food to eat. It is a convenient alternative to some of the other food allergies. Soy allergy is an uncommon allergy, but it is most prevalent in children with Dermatitis. Also, children allergic to Soy may increase their allergy with repeated exposure. 1 in 5 children with a Dairy allergy may also be allergic to Soy.

Soy, or Soy products are known by several names. Like the other allergens, so here’s a list of their common names:

Bean curd, Edamame, Hydrolysed Plant Protein, Hydrolysed Soy Protein, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Miso, Natto, Okara, Soja, Soy, Soy Lecithin, Soya, Soyabean, Soybean, Tamari, Tempeh, Textured Vegetable Protein, Tofu, and Yuba.

Soy can also be used as either a natural or artificial flavour, so be careful.

Even though the top 8 food allergies list is a very long list, these food allergies can be quite easy to avoid with a little practice.

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Food Allergy Information

What is a food allergy?

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is when the immune system of an allergic person responds to the proteins in food in a way that is not normal. An allergy can occur from within seconds, to hours after exposure to the allergen. Someone with a food allergy has IGE antibodies to a specific food protein. When this person comes into contact with that food, their Immune System releases a chemical called Histamine. This chemical is responsible for the allergic reaction. Depending on where contact occurs, the symptoms can vary from a small rash, to Anaphylaxis.

Symptoms of food allergy

The symptoms of food allergy vary greatly. Some of the symptoms are: a rash, itching/swelling in the mouth or face, drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, eczema, nasal congestion, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, Anaphylaxis. Allergic people may have some, or all of these symptoms.

Treatments for food allergy

Currently there is no known cure for food allergies. There are some specific treatments out there, such as desensitisation, but they don’t have a very high success rate. The safest known way to live with an allergy is to avoid the known food allergens. Avoiding allergens doesn’t necessarily mean having a bland diet. Using alternative ingredients in food, as well as monitoring ingredients when eating out, means that you won’t really miss out on many types of food. If an allergic reaction does occur, time is vital. If you or the allergic person requires an adrenaline shot, they should be carrying with them two Epipens or Anapens. These pens provide a dose of Adrenaline, which may help the person until they can get to a hospital. Anyone can use these pens, but it is important to become familiar with their use before an emergency arises. Learning First Aid can also help with this. If an allergic person comes into contact with a food allergen, don’t wait for symptoms to occur. Give them the adrenaline shot and ring for an ambulance. Carrying two pens is important in the event one malfunctions, or one isn’t administered correctly.

How do I know if I’m allergic?

People with food allergies usually find out by accident. There are specific tests, such as Pathology and skin prick tests to determine an allergy. Having one or both parents with an allergy increases the risk of their child having an allergy themselves. The rate of food allergies is unfortunately on the rise, and Doctors and Immunologists are unsure why.