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6 Food Allergy Myths Debunked

Trust20 Contributors

June 18, 2022

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Misconceptions about food allergies are just as common as food safety myths – and just as dangerous too! There are 32 million people in the United States who have food allergies and each year 200,000 of them require emergency medical care for an allergic reaction (Food Allergy Research & Education). Following along as we bust some of the most common food allergy myths could help you save a life!

#1 - Food allergy, intolerance, and preference can be used interchangeably.

FALSE! While all three of these terms fall under the category of “dietary restrictions,” they are actually not the same thing. Simply stated allergies are the result of an immune response, intolerances are a digestive condition, and preferences are a specific and closely-held lifestyle avoidance of a particular food or foods. While the science behind each one may be different, respectfully helping prevent people from coming into contact with forbidden foods should be standard across the board.

#2 - Food additives and artificial flavors are the cause of most food allergic reactions.

FALSE! Many people want to place the blame on processed foods, however 90% of allergic reactions come from the “big eight” that occur naturally in our food. The eight most common food allergens include: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybean. Laws in the United States require that food packaging call out when allergens are used as an ingredient in a product, or if that product was prepared in a facility where there is risk for cross-contact with an allergen.

#3 - Food allergies and intolerances only begin during childhood.

FALSE! It is sad, but true: a food allergy can begin at any age. It is true that children are frequently diagnosed with food allergies, however humans can (and do) develop allergies later in life. The worst part? Frequently consuming a particular food does not guarantee you won’t develop an allergy or intolerance to it (as many a lactose intolerant person has learned).

#4 - Food allergies are for life.

FALSE! Depending on the type of allergy and its severity, some children do grow out of their food allergies. It may occur naturally or with the guidance of doctors and immunotherapy. Unfortunately if someone has been diagnosed with a food allergy or intolerance as an adult, the likelihood of outgrowing their diagnosis is far more unlikely.

#5 - Children with an egg allergy should not get a flu shot or the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.

FALSE! According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Allergy & Asthma Network, children who have had a mild reaction to eggs can safely receive their flu shots each year. It is best practice for them to be monitored at the doctor’s office for 30 minutes after their injection. Children with a severe egg allergy should consult an allergist prior to flu season. The CDC has also stated that the MMR vaccine can safely be given to children with egg allergies.

#6 - A small amount of exposure to an allergen won’t hurt.

FALSE! The severity of an allergy spans a broad spectrum and no one person will react the exact same as the next. A trace amount of an allergen can have serious repercussions for some people. As food allergies and intolerances become more and more common it is important for foodservice workers and families alike to consider how to manage the risk of exposure to troublesome foods.

The misconceptions about food allergies are just as common as the allergies themselves. Because of this, there is a growing need in the foodservice industry for better training so every team has an understanding of serving customers with allergies, intolerances, and preferences.

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