Food Allergy Awareness Week kicks off

Yesterday marked the beginning of Food Allergy Awareness Week, which aims to educate as many people as possible about food allergies and their severity.

Food allergies have been increasing in the U.S. in recent years – up from 3.4 percent of kids younger than 18 in 1997-1999 to 5.1 percent in 2009-2011, according to new research. Roughly 3.5 to 4 percent of U.S. adults also have at least one food allergy. In fact, every three minutes, food allergies send someone to the emergency room, according to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), a national group dedicated to raising awareness of food allergy.

Although almost any food can be allergenic, 90 percent of food allergic reactions are caused by only eight foods: peanuts, eggs, milk, tree nuts, wheat, fish, soy and shellfish.

Unlike intolerances such as lactose intolerance, allergic reactions are immune responses. Symptoms of food allergic reactions can range from mild, such as hives, to severe including throat swelling, difficulty breathing and anaphylactic shock.

Food Allergy Awareness Week was first marked in 1998 by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, now called FARE. Its website is full of ways to raise awareness of food allergy along with helpful information. Additional information on food allergy also is available through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

In April, the World Allergy Organization (WAO) held World Allergy Week, which this year focused on raising awareness of food allergy. WAO estimates that about 220 to 250 million people globally have at least one food allergy.

For more information on food allergies from Neogen blog, click here.

Check out our infographic (PDF) Food Allergies: A Growing Concern.

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