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Food allergy is a growing public health concern in the U.S.
More than 12 million Americans have food allergies. That’s one in 25, or four percent of the population.
About three million children in the U.S. have food allergies.
Food allergy is believed to be the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting, causing an estimated 50,000 emergency department visits each year in the U.S.
Each year in the U.S., it is estimated that anaphylaxis caused by food results in 150 deaths. Death can be sudden, sometimes occurring within minutes.
Eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions in the U.S.: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food are important measures to prevent serious health consequences.
Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.
Most people who’ve had an allergic reaction to something they ate thought that it was safe to eat.
Early administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) is crucial to successfully treating an anaphylactic reaction.
What should I do if I have a food allergy?
1. If you have a food allergy and have not met with our Executive Dietitian, please contact Sheila Tucker as soon as possible to learn about safely dining on campus with a food allergy.
2. When in the dining locations, if you are unsure of what the ingredients are for something we serve or sell, ask to speak to a manager.
3. Assume that all of our baked goods have traces of peanuts and tree nuts. These items are produced in a facility that uses nuts on a constant basis and cross-contamination is always a risk.
4. Check the menus online for Corcoran, McElroy, Hillside, Stuart, and Lyons. Mousing over an item on the menu will show which of the eight common allergens are in that item (pop up blocking needs to be off for that web site). Clicking on the red apple icon on each menu will allow you to view a full Nutritional Fact panel and ingredient list; this is especially essential if you are allergic to foods other than the eight most common allergens.
5. Avoid self-serve areas because cross-contamination with allergens is a risk. Examples include ice cream topping bars, salad bars, and candy bins.
6. Remember that in any made-to-order areas (such as the grill or sandwich line) cross-contamination is a risk even if your food order is allergen free. Identify to the server that you have a food allergy so that a manager can be summoned to oversee that the correct steps are taken to avoid cross-contamination from any prior food orders made in the area.
What should I do if someone is having an allergic reaction?
1. Ask the person to describe their physical symptoms.
2. Stay with the person or have someone stay with the person while you call for help.
3. Call 911 from a campus phone or 617-552-4444 from a cell phone. Be sure to specifically stat that this is an allergic reaction situation.
4. Ask if the person has an "epi-pen" and have them use it as directed by their physician.
*facts are from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network