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Food Allergies Increase while Food Industry Intends to Profit


Are you allergic to any foods? If so, you’re definitely not alone. According to a recent study, food allergies are a common problem for more and more Americans.  Not only that, but people are also developing food allergies at younger ages. And, believe it or not, food allergies cause 150 to 200 deaths per year in America. Who knew that something as common as food could kill you! So what foods are people most commonly allergic to? And why are food allergies on the rise? Keep reading for answers to those questions and more.

According to a recent study, food allergies are a common problem for more and more Americans.  Not only that, but people are also developing food allergies at younger ages.  "The number of children under age 5 suffering from peanut allergy alone has doubled in the past decade," said Dr. Wesley Burks, senior author of a Duke University Medical Center study released in 2007. 

Food allergies occur when the immune system thinks food is harmful and triggers antibodies to attack it.  It has been estimated from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that there are 12 million people in the United States alone that have food allergies.  Another 2 million suffer from celiac disease, which is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks itself when it is exposed to gluten.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
 
Believe it or not, food allergies cause 150 to 200 deaths per year in America.  There are approximately 30,000 visits to the emergency room and 2,000 are hospitalized.  Ninety percent of allergic reactions are blamed on these eight foods:

1. Peanuts

2. Tree nuts

3. Milk

4. Eggs

5. Fish

6. Shellfish

7. Soy

8. Wheat

Researchers are not exactly sure why food allergies are on the rise.  However, they do have their theories. 

One theory is that our society has become too hygienic.  Children’s immune systems have been deprived of building up defenses against germs because they are too “clean.”   Another theory is that some exposures to environmental pollutants or the way in which we process our foods has led to an increase in food allergies. 

Many times food allergies are not extremely serious.  However, there are times that food allergies can be deadly.  Some children who are allergic to nuts, for example, can go into shock even if the exposure to nuts is simply a child across the table eating a peanut butter sandwich.  We all need to get very serious on protecting our children with these severe allergies.  Schools must create a full proof plan to help protect the children they are responsible for every day. 

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut states that "Without federal guidance, a child's health and safety may be protected in one school but not in another." Senator Dodd ‘s 6-year-old daughter is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, sesame and tropical fruits and has gone into shock four times. Senator Dodd introduced a legislation which would require uniform food allergy guidelines across the country.  This bill is called the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act.  It has passed the House in April and is pending in the Senate. "This bill is about keeping children safe and giving parents peace of mind. Food allergies affect millions of Americans and often pose a life threatening risk to the most vulnerable among us, our children," said Senator Bob Corker, who has signed on as co-sponsor of the bill.

The food market is trying to meet the demands of the food allergy world, but at the same time building business from doing so.  Many mainstream retailers and food industry specialists, such as Safeway, Giant Food and General Mills have created new foods in hopes to profit from this consumer demand.  Many companies have developed gluten free products or nut-free products etc. as well.



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