According to estimates, up to 1.2 million Canadians with food allergies would endanger the life of the subject, and according to some studies, this figure tends to increase. Food allergies can strike at any age, but they are particularly common in children.
Peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, soy, seafood, wheat, eggs, milk, mustard and sulphites are food allergens most often implicated in severe allergic reactions in Canada. They are also recognized as a priority allergens.
Allergens can cause a reaction in your respiratory system in your stomach and intestines, on your skin or in your cardiovascular system. There are various types of allergic reactions and vary in severity. They can lead to mild skin irritations and hives and can go up to cause respiratory problems and loss of consciousness. The time required for the onset of symptoms also varies. Sometimes they can get worse very quickly. The most severe reaction, called anaphylaxis, can be fatal.
Food allergies are triggered when your immune system perceives, incorrectly, that a dietary source of protein is threatening. In susceptible individuals, the tiniest particle of the allergenic protein is sufficient to cause a severe allergic reaction. That’s why you definitely need to understand and manage the risks of food allergens.
How to avoid allergic reactions
If you have a food allergy, avoid eating the offending allergen is the only effective way to prevent allergic reactions. Many important steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are some general tips about this:
1. Read the label carefully.
Be sure to take the time to read food labels very carefully.
Sometimes manufacturers change their ingredients in products that are familiar to us, besides varieties and formats of a product of the same brand may contain different ingredients, hence the importance of consulting the label each time you purchase a product.
Although the new regulations on the labeling of allergens is underway, it will not come into force until August 2012. Therefore, you must continue to take steps to help you avoid the allergens until the enhanced labeling arrives on the shelves.
The exclusive consumer products bearing a list of ingredients are essential. It is therefore to avoid foods in bulk and containing no such list, in addition, carry a risk of cross-contamination between containers.
Until the regulations come into force, mustard may be present as an ingredient of a spice, a seasoning mix or other ingredients whose constituents do not have to be declared and which therefore do not be included specifically in the list of ingredients. People who are allergic to mustard will take great care to avoid products whose ingredients list includes spices or seasonings words, but they can also contact the product manufacturer to find out if the product in question contains mustard .
2. Beware of cross contamination.
Cross-contamination occurs when an allergen is transferred inadvertently to a food which usually does not contain.
Look for warnings such as “may contain X” (where “X” is the name usually used to refer to the allergen). Generally, these warnings are intended for possible cross contamination.
Warnings indicate that the food may have been exposed to an allergen accidentally at one time or another in the manufacturing process, and they involve risks for people with food allergies.
3. Do not leave anything to chance.
Avoid food products that contain the allergens to which you are allergic or derivatives thereof.
Avoid food products that carry a warning appear when an allergen to which you are allergic.
Avoid food products that do not carry a list of ingredients as those that contain an ingredient that you do not recognize.
When someone else you cook a meal for you, whether you are in a restaurant or friends, make sure that it is aware of your food allergy. It may thus take the necessary measures to prevent cross-contamination and inform you of the presence of any ingredient you’re allergic to.
Even if a dish does not contain the food to which you are allergic, it may have still been in contact with it, whether through the vessels or the used dishes. If in doubt, do not eat it.
4. Your auto injector of epinephrine / adrenaline keeps it on hand at all times.
If an allergist prescribed an auto injector of epinephrine / adrenaline, learn how to use it appropriately and have it on hand at all times. It could save your life.
Every two or three months, have you been using it and also train other family members,
If it is your child who is allergic, teach him how to use the device and emphasize the importance of keeping at all times to hand.
Do not forget to bring one or more you leave the cottage or traveling.
Use the auto-injector at the first signs of reaction. After using an auto injector of epinephrine, you should consult a healthcare professional immediately.
Also, always wear a Medic Alert indicator. In case of accidents, others will know your allergies and reactions.
5. Open the eye to detect allergens designated by other names.
Food allergens and their derivatives are sometimes referred to by different names on the food label.