Food Allergy Awareness

Posted on May 29, 2024

It is estimated that 33 million people in the United States have food allergies. A food allergy is an immune response to the proteins in food that are usually harmless to most people. The result of the immune response is an allergic reaction, ranging from mild reactions, such as hives, or itchy skin, to more severe responses such as anaphylaxis. A severe enough reaction can be deadly, so those who experience food allergies must be extremely cognizant of the food that they eat.

The top nine food allergens are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and sesame. These nine allergens are the most common causes of food allergic reactions in the United States.

Given that there is no cure for food allergies, people who experience them must be extra cautious. This includes avoiding food allergens and learning to promptly recognize and treat reactions. One way to avoid the food allergen is by reading ingredient labels. Food manufacturers are required to list ingredients and call out the top nine allergens in their labels. Restaurants and other food service establishments should have procedures on how to serve customers with food allergies and be ready to answer any questions regarding allergies, so it is important to make your food allergy known to the establishment. People with severe enough allergies are recommended to carry their Epi-Pens in case of a serious reaction. If you or someone you know has food allergies, it is important to take extra precautions to ensure that eating is an enjoyable and safe experience.

About the Author

Hannah Yoo is a registered dietitian working at Lexington School District in Massachusetts. She graduated from UConn’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics and has worked in residential dining for higher education as well as K12 school nutrition. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing tennis, and traveling.