Facts about food allergies

  • One in 13 children, including 6-8 percent of elementary students, has a food allergy. In New Jersey approximately 327,000 people have food allergies, including nearly 100,000 children.
  • Eight foods account for 90 percent of allergic reactions. These include milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
  • Symptoms of a reaction can include: a tingling sensation in the mouth; swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat; breathing difficulties; hives; vomiting; abdominal cramps; diarrhea; drop n blood pressure; loss of consciousness; and death. These symptoms can appear within seconds to hours after consuming the food to which one is allergic.
  • Strict avoidance of allergy-causing foods is the only way to prevent a reaction. Reading the ingredient labels of all foods to be consumed and knowing the alternative names for allergens (such as “whey” and “casein” for milk) as well as preventing cross-contamination are the keys to minimizing allergic reactions.
  • Food allergies are different from food intolerances. An intolerance is a metabolic disorder and does not involve the immune system. A food allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to a food protein.