What Are Food Allergies?
Food allergies occur when a person’s immune system overreacts to a food protein, an allergen, that would otherwise be harmless. While more than 140 foods have been recorded as causing allergic reactions, in the U.S., the nine most common food allergens are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, sesame, fish and shellfish.
Food allergy is a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition affecting 32 million Americans. One in every 13 children has a food allergy, or two per classroom1. An allergic reaction to food sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes2. Severe allergic reactions have increased nearly 400% over the last decade3. Commonly thought of as a childhood condition, food allergy can strike at any age, and an increasing number of adults are being diagnosed with adult-onset allergies. One in every ten adults has a food allergy, and nearly half of them report developing their allergy in adulthood4. At the same time, the cohort of adults entering the workplace have personal experience with food allergy and a history of managing their condition. More recently, food allergies have been recognized as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For all of these reasons, food companies, public and private employers and those who operate public places such as restaurants are increasingly being asked about their own food allergy preparedness by their employees and customers. This includes safe preparation of food to avoid allergen cross-contact, understanding ingredients and food labels, emergency preparedness and legal considerations in the US under federal and state disability and other law. Developing comprehensive plans and policies is of increasing importance as the prevalence of food allergy is expected to continue to rise.
Is your company prepared to meet the needs of employees, customers and stakeholders living with food allergy?
 Gupta RS, Springston EE, Warrier MR, Smith B, Kumar R, Pongracic J, Holl JL. The prevalence, severity, and distribution of childhood food allergy in the United States. Pediatrics. 2011 Jul;128(1):e9-17.
 Taken from www.foodallergy.org on September 1, 2019.
 Food Allergy in the United States: Recent Trends and Costs – An Analysis of Private Claims Data, A FAIRHealth White Paper, 2017
 Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, MPH1,2,3,4; Christopher M. Warren, BA5; Bridget M. Smith, PhD1,6; Prevalence and Severity of Food Allergies Among US Adults JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Jan