Food Allergy Info
About Food Allergies
Food allergy is a disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein (an allergen) as a threat. To fight this threat, the body releases histamine and other chemicals, causing symptoms that can range from skin rashes and stomach problems to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Although a person can be allergic to any food, eight foods (milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish) cause most food allergy reactions in the U.S. Anyone, at any age, can develop a food allergy, but the impact on children is especially severe. There is no cure, and no standard treatment to prevent food allergy reactions. Strict avoidance of problem foods is the only way to stay safe.
With the number of people who have food allergies increasing at a significant rate, this potentially fatal condition is a growing public health issue. The numbers tell the story:
- Food allergies affect up to 15 million Americans, including 1 in 13 children – roughly two in every classroom.
- Nearly 40 percent of these children have already experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with food allergies in the U.S. increased 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.
- Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.
Additional information on food allergies can be found at: www.foodallergy.org