A food allergy results when your immune system mistakenly thinks a food containing an ingredient like wheat, milk or shellfish is harmful and attacks it. Your body usually will let you know you’re allergic to something within minutes. Symptoms range from hives, itchy mouth, nausea and vomiting to more severe symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing or changes in pulse. Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, can also occur and includes symptoms like skin reactions, low blood pressure, changes in pulse, dizziness or fainting, and swelling of the lips, tongue or throat. You should always call 911 in the case of anaphylaxis, as it is potentially life-threatening.
There is no cure for food allergies, but awareness remains key in preventing accidental exposure. Food Allergy Awareness Week was created to highlight food allergies, signs and symptoms, and prevent future exposures. For those living with food allergies, it has become easier to manage as awareness increases. This year’s awareness week is May 12 – 18.
Minimize the risk
While the best way to avoid the risk of exposing yourself and others to food allergens is cooking at home with ingredients you purchase and trust, we all eat out sometimes. Just follow the tips below for an allergen-resistant experience whether you’re at home or out and about.
- Plan ahead, and ask your guests about their food allergies.
- Review all the ingredients on the product labels you’re cooking with.
- Find allergy information by visiting the restaurant’s website.
- Consider using a chef card — a small card that outlines the foods you must avoid — to alert the staff about your food allergy.
- Leave the restaurant if you feel uncomfortable about the restaurant’s food preparation.
If you are cooking at home, remember that Publix has your back! Our fresh departments have signs displaying any potential allergens, so you can make informed choices based on your individual needs. Have a question? Just ask an associate!
Test your knowledge. Did you know that just eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergy reactions? See if you can pick out the eight allergens from this list of words. Find the answers underneath.
Soy – Basil – Potatoes – Wheat – Milk – Shellfish – Mint – Chicken – Sugar cane
Tree nuts – Peanuts – Lamb – Grapes – Watermelon – Strawberries – Fish – Eggs – Onions
Puzzle answer: The eight allergens that make up 90 percent of all food allergy reactions are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.