Food allergies can have serious consequences.
People with a peanut allergy need to be especially careful about what they eat since even the tiniest piece of peanut could cause a serious allergic reaction. Because of the chance of a life-threatening allergic reaction, every bit of food eaten must be peanut-free.
Those who are allergic to tree nuts and some other foods can also develop a whole body response called anaphylaxis. This serious reaction can lead to death if not treated immediately.
Don't assume that a food is safe
People with food allergies need to read every label of processed foods carefully. One of the biggest dangers of having food allergies is not knowing that the food you are allergic to is present in a food you are about to eat. Peanuts can be hidden in many foods that do not taste like peanuts, such as chili or ethnic foods, including Asian and African dishes.
Cross-contamination can be a problem
When someone has a peanut allergy, it is possible to have an allergic reaction from a food, even if they do not eat it. How is this possible? It can happen when a peanut-free food is mixed, cut, or otherwise processed with the same machinery and equipment that was used to make foods that contained peanuts. Just a small amount of peanut protein on the equipment can cause an allergic person to have allergy symptoms.
Not all food is protected by law
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) requires that food sources of all ingredients in a product must be listed if a food contains any protein from the eight major food allergens. These are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans.
Labeling requirements do not apply to foods that may be cross-contaminated, and there could be enough residue or trace amount of an allergen in these foods that could cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires emergency treatment.
Know the symptoms of food allergic reactions
Another measure to take if you have food allergies is to be able to identify food allergies that may occur. Know the symptoms and be ready to react if any of these happen after eating. You will need to take fast action for yourself, your child, or other family member if an allergic reaction does occur.
Just because an allergic reaction has been mild in the past does not mean that a serious reaction could not happen in the future. It is a possibility, and you need to be prepared to act quickly.
Your doctor may prescribe medicine
Most people with a peanut allergy are given epinephrine if they have a peanut allergy. The medication should be carried with an adult at all times and should be provided for children with allergies at all times as well. The medication is given by injection as soon as symptoms develop. An emergency room visit should follow immediately afterwards.