Food Allergy: A Patients Guide

Preventative measures to cope with severe food allergies

(Adapted from ASCIA Patient Information Bulletin)
Your Allergist has confirmed that you or your child has a life-threatening allergy to a food – Now what?

Parents & family members

  • Be alert
  • Be careful at home
  • Read all labels and learn about food
  • Be assertive, educate others
  • Plan trips and outings and take a supply of safe food
  • Ensure that others can easily recognize your child as being at risk
  • Teach your child how to recognize the food allergen and how to identify hidden ingredients
  • Never coerce the child with food allergy to eat food he or she rejects
  • Learn how to use emergency adrenaline, have a crisis plan.

School teachers and carers

  • Acknowledge your duty of care
  • Know which children are at risk, and which foods are involved
  • Display a photo of the child at risk in a prominent location
  • Take note of specialist medical advice in developing avoidance policies
  • Listen carefully to parents concern — they are the ones who know most about the child’s problem
  • Never offer the child with food allergy any food not approved by the parents
  • Ask the parents to provide safe snacks and treats to enable the child to participate in birthday parties and other special occasions
  • Avoid stigmatising the child
  • Be vigilant but discreet with supervision
  • Learn how and when to administer adrenaline.

Make sure you get a Medic Alert bracelet or necklace for the child to wear. This will provide vital information about the nature of the problem in an emergency.

What are the major traps?

In the home

  • Failure to read food labels carefully
  • Continuing to use the allergenic food in the family home — accidental exposure can occur from food-scraps, spills, or contamination of kitchen benches, utensils and food containers. In extreme cases cooking fumes may carry sufficient allergens to set off a reaction

Eating away from home

  • Failure to read food labels carefully
  • Careless behaviour by friends and relatives
  • Unlabelled / hidden ingredients at fast food outlets and food courts
  • Ignorant or dismissive behaviour by shop and restaurant staff
  • Contaminated utensils, workbench and spreads in takeaway food outlets

At school or child-care

  • Ignorant or dismissive behaviour by staff and voluntary helpers
  • Cross-contamination of food during preparation
  • Cross-contamination when foods are mixed on plates
  • Contaminated surfaces, books and toys by grubby fingers
  • Inadvertent use of artwork materials such as milk cartons, egg crates, nutshells and eggshells
  • Cooking activities using allergenic food
  • Bullying or coercive behaviour by other children using the allergenic food

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