Food allergens are becoming even more common in our society with recent data estimating that 5 per cent of children and 2 per cent of adults in Australia currently suffer from some type of food allergy.
Like foodborne illnesses, when it comes to food allergies prevention is better than a cure. Everything that we eat must be handled, prepared and stored properly so as to reduce the risk of it causing us harm. This especially goes for foods that potentially contain allergens. Although there are treatments for allergic reactions, it’s always better to take all available steps to ensure that the reaction does not occur in the first place.
Prevention is better than a cure
The best form of prevention against food allergies is knowledge. All food handlers must be aware of whether any of the people eating their food suffer from a food allergy. With the ever-increasing number of people who suffer from food allergies, this is as important at home as it is in a food business.
Food handlers also need to know exactly which ingredients they’re using in all foods they prepare. Carefully reading the packet that, by law, must list any potential allergens is essential when it comes to food allergies. Some packets will list ingredients that are made up of allergens so being aware of which ingredients yourself or others are unable to eat is a must. Please note that some ingredients are listed on a food packet under a different name so it is important to be aware of whether an ingredient could still include the allergen.
Avoiding cross-contamination is also vital when it comes to protecting people against suffering an allergic reaction. Just like bacteria, cross-contamination helps spreads allergens to food. Taking the time to use different equipment and thoroughly washing their hands helps food handlers reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
If someone with a food allergy suffers an allergic reaction it is strongly recommended for him or her to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Epinephrine pens are often carried as a precaution against anaphylaxis reactions in severe allergy sufferers.
For more information on food allergies and how to prevent them occurring, you can visit the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.