A food allergy occurs when a person’s immune systems reacts to a food that is harmless for most people. When eaten, the immune system releases large amounts of chemicals that trigger symptoms that can affect a person’s breathing, heart, skin and gut.
Some food allergies can be severe, causing potentially life threatening allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis.
Food allergy occurs in around 10% of infants, 4-8% of children aged up to 5 years and 2-3% of adults. 90% of food reactions are caused by nine allergens: peanut, tree nuts, egg, cow’s milk products (dairy), sesame, shellfish, fish, soy and wheat. However any food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction. There is no cure for food allergy – therefore avoidance of the food is essential to prevent reactions.
Research shows that giving your baby the common allergy causing foods before they are one year of age can greatly reduce the risk of them developing an allergy to that food. When your baby is ready at around 6 months, but not before 4 months, start to introduce first foods including smooth peanut butter/paste and well-cooked egg. Delaying the introduction of the common allergy causing foods does not prevent food allergy.
This course was developed by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) to provide ready access to reliable anaphylaxis education to the community throughout Australia and New Zealand, at no charge.
Time to complete: 40 minutes to 1 hour.
In non-English speaking countries it may be difficult to verbally disclose your allergy and to ask a range of questions about the ingredients and preparation methods. The translated “chef card” may assist in communicating the foods you must avoid and how the food must be prepared.
If you have an allergic reaction when eating out and you told the staff about your allergy when ordering, it is important to report the food business to your state health department AFTER you have managed the emergency and recovered from the allergic reaction.
If you have an allergic reaction to a packaged food, it is important that this is reported so that the product can be tested and a product recall undertaken if required.
Investigating a reaction is important as it will help to reduce the risk of the same mistake being made again.