Why Learn about Food Allergy?<br />ANSWER:<br /> <br />When individuals with food allergies dine away from home, they must rely on food service staff to provide them with accurate information about ingredients so that they can make an informed decision about what to order. <br /> <br />Incorrect or incomplete information puts these individuals at risk for an allergic reaction. Even a mild reaction will bring their dining experience to an abrupt end; a serious reaction may require transport to the hospital in an ambulance.<br /> <br />Education, cooperation, and teamwork are the keys to safely serving a guest who has food allergies. All food service staff – including dining services managers, servers, and kitchen staff – must become familiar with the issues surrounding food allergies and the proper way to answer guests’ questions. Furthermore, they must know what to do if an allergic reaction occurs.<br />
What is a Food Allergy?<br />A food allergy involves an interaction between food and the immune system. <br /><ul><li>Body sees the food that they are allergic to as foreign invaders (poison!).
When an individual eats, touches, or inhales the offending food, the immune system “protects” the body from the “dangerous invader” by releasing chemicals that cause an allergic reaction.</li></ul> <br />The amount of food needed to cause an allergic reaction varies from one person to another. <br /> <br />Reactions to the same food vary from person to person. For example, milk may cause “Mary” to break out in hives, while it causes “John” to vomit.<br /> <br /> <br />There is no cure or preventative medication available for food allergy. <br /> <br /> <br />Avoidance of the food is the only way to prevent a reaction from occurring.<br />
Avoidance of the food is the only way to prevent a reaction<br />Avoidance is sometimes difficult because of:<br /><ul><li>“surprise” sources of allergens. For example, egg whites are brushed on breads to make them shiny.
cross-contamination (when an allergen inadvertently gets into a food that is “safe”). For example, if a spoon is used to stir multiple dishes during food preparation or if products containing an allergen are made on the same surface as “safe” foods, the “safe” food has traces of the allergen.</li></ul> <br />Most individuals who have experienced an allergic reaction knew what they were allergic to and unknowingly ate food with “hidden ingredients.” <br />
Knowledge = The Ability to Avoid<br />Food Allergy Facts<br />12 million Americanshave a food allergy. <br />Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat account for 90 percent of all food allergy reactions.<br />There is no cure for a food allergy; strict avoidanceis the only way to prevent a reaction.<br />A severe or life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis <br />Even a trace amount of an allergy-causing food is enough to trigger an allergic reaction in some people.<br />Minute amounts of certain foods can be life-threatening when ingested.<br />
What does an allergic reaction look like?<br />Typical Allergy Symptoms<br />
Responding to a Reaction<br />There is no way to predict how a reaction will develop. <br />Some reactions are mild to begin with and quickly go away after medication such as Benadryl is administered. <br />Other reactions grow from mild symptoms to anaphylaxis and require treatment with epinephrine (epipen)<br />All reactions need to be taken seriously and treated promptly.<br /> <br />All of the doctors I’ve interviewed stress that time is critical and when in doubt, patient should receive epi.<br />
1. Avoid Cross Contact<br />What is cross-contact?<br />When one food comes into contact with another food and their proteins mix. Each food then contains small amounts of the other food, often invisible to us. A tiny amount of an allergenic food is enough to cause an allergic reaction in some people. <br />contact may be direct (e.g., placing cheese on a hamburger) or indirect (via hands or utensils).<br />
2. Read and understand ingredients labels<br />Don’t assume that a food is safe…read the ingredients!<br />Mayonnaise and meringue contain eggs, <br />Many products that carry “nondairy” labels contain milk<br />Marzipan is a paste made with almonds. <br />Other “surprise” sources of allergens.: peanut butter is sometimes used to thicken chili or egg whites are brushed on breads to make them shiny. <br /> <br />The Federal Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires that major food allergens be listed in simple language (i.e. “milk” instead of “casein” or “whey”; “egg“ instead of “albumin”)<br />Weaknesses of FALCPA:<br />FALCPA does not help people who are allergic to items that are not identified as a major allergen (e.g., sesame, mulluscan shellfish, mustard or gluten.) Potential allergens can be in “spices” and “natural flavors.” <br />FALCPA does not regulate precautionary allergen warnings, such as “may contain”, “processed in a facility”, or “made on shared equipment”. Avoid foods with precautionary labels.<br />
3. Correct your mistakes by starting the prep over<br />The only acceptable correction is to discard the order and remake it. Removing the offending ingredient – for example, scraping nuts off the top of a sundae or taking the cheese off a burger – is no solution. A trace amount of protein remaining on the food could be enough to cause an allergic reaction.<br />If necessary, inform the diner that it will take a few extra minutes to ensure that his or her meal is prepared properly. The customer will appreciate your honesty and effort.<br />
Responding To Allergic Reactions<br />Anaphylaxis<br />Sudden and severe. <br />can cause breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure, shock and, potentially, death. <br />Medications used to Treat Reactions<br />Antihistamines (such as Benadryl)are useful in treating minor symptoms, such as a runny nose or mild case of hives. <br />Emergency Medication – Epinephrine – EpiPen or TwinJect. An injection that opens up the airways. Must be given immediately.<br />
Responding To Allergic Reactions (continued)<br />If a reaction occurs, how the staff reacts is of the upmost importance. <br /> <br />If a guest notifies the staff that he/she is having an allergic reaction, staff should immediately:<br />Summon medical help for the administration of epinephrine and/or antihistamine. <br />and, simultaneously,<br />call 911 and indicate that there is an allergic reaction in-house so the EMS will bring the correct advanced life-support equipment<br /> DO NOT delay medical treatment by denying that the reaction is occurring or waiting to see if it “passes.”<br />DO NOT have that person stand. Some cases of fatal anaphylaxis have occurred after raising a person to an upright position. <br />