3 Common Food Allergies and the Risks They Present

crab and musselsThree batches of Trader Joe’s beloved Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups had to be recalled recently after reports of severe allergic reactions. Although the label does state ‘may contain peanuts’, manufacturer Bazzini urged the public to either discard the product or return it to Trader Joe’s for a full refund.

Peanut and other food allergies are not uncommon in the USA. In fact, someone is sent to the emergency room every three minutes due to a food allergy reaction according to the CDC. While there are many sources of allergies, there are three in particular that are not only very common but extremely dangerous as well.

Peanut allergies are potentially fatal

Peanut allergies are among the most common food allergies in the USA, affecting approximately 4-8% of children and 1-2% of adults. Symptoms of a peanut allergy include itching skin, While it may be possible to avoid eating foods that obviously contain peanuts, such a peanut butter and peanut brittle, peanuts can also appear in unlikely places such as candy, cereal, and even in salad dressings. Even a seemingly harmless sandwich could contain traces of peanuts that can prove to be fatal. It is for this very reason that Natasha’s Law was passed in the UK. Under the law, any food that is pre-packed for direct sales has to contain a label with a full list of ingredients and an emphasis on any of the 14 major allergens it may contain.

Shellfish allergies manifest more commonly in adults

Crustaceans such as prawns, shrimp, lobster crab, and oysters contain a compound known as tropomyosin that can trigger severe and even fatal allergic reactions. Although it may take some time for an allergic reaction to take place after eating shellfish, it usually develops within minutes.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, a tingling sensation in the mouth and throat, wheezing, and anaphylaxis. Unlike other allergies, shellfish allergies tend to manifest more commonly in adults than in children. It has also been established that even the vapor that forms while cooking shellfish can trigger a potentially fatal reaction in someone that is allergic to it.

As untreated anaphylaxis can turn fatal in less than 15 minutes it is of the utmost importance to avoid exposure to shellfish at all costs and also why carrying injectable epinephrine with you if you have a known allergy can be lifesaving.

Wheat can cause a severe immune response

Wheat allergies typically affect children and are often outgrown by the time a child turns ten. It is also commonly confused with both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. A wheat allergy can manifest itself in many ways with symptoms ranging from digestive discomfort, hives, and vomiting to swelling, diarrhea, and anaphylaxis. While gluten sensitivity can cause significant discomfort, a true allergy can prove to be fatal. People who are diagnosed with a wheat allergy should avoid it at all costs although they should be able to consume gluten from other sources.

Food allergies are a lot more common than we realize and can range from mild to fatal in severity. Despite the grave danger that some food allergies pose, it is possible to lead a normal life if the proper precautions are taken.

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