With food allergies on the rise globally the need to study ingredient lists on labels has become a matter of life and death.
Allergic reactions can range from mild rashes to severe breathing difficulties and anaphylactic shock – a sudden and potentially fatal response.
According to "When Food Turns Fatal" as published in Reader's Digest South Africa (October 2007) more than 160 foods have been linked to allergies, but the 8 most troublesome are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat and soya.
Almost any food can cause an allergic reaction, even fruits and vegetables such as apples, strawberries, tomatoes, carrots and avocados.
When you have a food allergy, your immune system reacts in an exaggerated way to the ingestion, inhalation or contact with a specific protein in food that would ordinarily be harmless.
The reaction can take place in a matter of seconds or take as long as two hours after the offending food has been eaten.
If you suspect a food allergy you can protect yourself and you family by doing the following:
1. Ask your GP to refer you to a food allergy specialist.
2. Keep risky foods out of your home.
3. Read food labels.
4. Never share foods, beverages or eating utensils.
5. When away from homes carry "safe" snacks.
6. Carry fast acting antihistamines.
7. In cases of severe allergies, carry self-injectable epinephrine.
* To read the full story go to www.readersdigest.co.za