Food allergy facts

Food allergy facts

Here are some key facts about food allergy:

  • People suffering severe reactions need emergency expert help from a trained paramedic, usually with injectable adrenaline.
  • In the UK, about ten people die every year from food-induced anaphylaxis.
  • There are also about 1,500 asthma deaths, some of which might be triggered by food allergy.
  • For those at greatest risk, the tiniest trace of food allergen can trigger severe symptoms and, in some cases, cause fatal or near-fatal symptoms.
  • Many of those who die or suffer ‘near miss’ reactions had no idea that they were at risk. Those who are aware of the risk can find the day-to-day unpredictability of living with food allergy risks stressful.
  • Teenagers and young adults seem to be at particular risk of severe reactions.
  • Many people with a food allergy also have asthma, which can make food reactions more severe if it’s not controlled by regular medication.

Which foods can cause allergy?

  • In Europe, food allergens are monitored and assessed by clinical and scientific experts through the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). They advise on which foods need to be labelled on pre-packed foods.
  • Annex II of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No.1169/2011 lists 14 food allergens that must always be labelled in pre-packed and non-prepacked foods.
  • Foods that need to be labelled on pre-packed foods when used as ingredients are:
    • Cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt or khorasan
    • Crustaceans for example prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish
    • Eggs
    • Fish
    • Peanuts
    • Soybeans
    • Milk
    • Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia (or Queensland) nuts
    • Celery (including celeriac)
    • Mustard
    • Sesame seeds
    • Sulphur dioxide (>10mg/kg or 10mg/L)
    • Lupin
    • Mollusc for example clams, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid
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