Mountain View Medical Supply

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Eight Most Common Food Allergens

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to list the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies. Those eight top allergens together comprise 90% of all allergic food reactions, so naturally, they get the most attention.

For some, the worst thing that happens when they eat is a wicked case of heartburn. But for others, eating the wrong thing can lead to hives, swelling, vomiting and even death!

The top eight food allergens are:
Tree Nuts
(almonds, cashews, walnuts)
(bass, cod, flounder)
(crab, lobster, shrimp)

Domestic or imported food is required to have a label that lists whether the product contains the top eight allergens as a primary ingredient, or in any flavorings or other additives. Fresh produce, meat and highly refined oils don't require listings on labels.

The kicker to food labeling laws is that manufacturers aren't required to include warnings about food allergens accidentally introduced during manufacturing or packaging (cross contamination). This can cause trouble for those that are very sensitive to food allergens.

Although gluten intolerance is different than a food allergy, it can cause serious reactions. Gluten is a protein that occurs in grains such as wheat, barley and rye and causes serious health problems in people who have celiac disease, a chronic digestive disorder.

The FDA is working to establish clearer guidelines for food labels, but since “gluten-free” and “possible cross contamination” labels are currently voluntary, its up to the manufacturer to include warnings. It’s always a good idea to double check labels or contact manufacturers when in doubt.

Also, there is a difference between food allergies and food intolerance. If you have a food allergy, even a tiny amount of the offending food can cause an immediate, severe reaction. Nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea, tingling mouth, hives, swelling and anaphylaxis which can cause trouble breathing. Food intolerance generally comes on gradually and doesn't involve an immune system reaction.

If you have a reaction after eating a particular food, see your doctor to determine whether you have a food intolerance or a food allergy. If you have a food allergy, you may be at risk of a life-threatening reaction - even if past reactions have been mild.


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