How to manage food allergies and prevent allergic reactions
Food allergies can be difficult to manage and can diminish your quality of life. If you have anaphylaxis, it can also be fatal. A significant number of deaths come from the consumption of food outside of the home such as at a restaurant, which can be challenging for people with allergies. Various strategies to reduce the risk of food allergy reactions at restaurants are proposed on advocacy websites, endorsed by physicians and have been described to be used by people with food allergies. But little is known of the efficacy of these strategies and how often they are utilised.
The researchers found that those with food allergies used an average of 15 strategies when eating out and tended to have fewer allergic reactions.
Researchers examined what tools people and their families use to prevent allergic reactions at restaurants by giving members of a food allergy network a 25-question survey that examined behaviours used in preparation for restaurant dining. Both reactors and non-reactors were examined and the data was analysed to determine the link between risk mitigating behaviours or strategies used and resultant reported reactions.
Out of 39 respondents, 19 reactions were identified that occurred while dining in restaurants. The most used preventative strategies used were speaking to the waiter on arrival (80 per cent); ordering food with simple ingredients (77 per cent); double-checking food before eating (77 per cent); avoiding restaurants with higher likelihood of contamination (74 per cent); and reviewing ingredients on a restaurant website (72 per cent). The least utilised strategies used were placing food allergy order separately (23 per cent); using a personal allergy card (26 per cent); no longer eating at restaurants (39 per cent); choosing a chain restaurant (41 per cent); and going to a restaurant in off-peak hours (44 per cent). The researchers found that those with food allergies used an average of 15 strategies when eating out and tended to have fewer allergic reactions, while those who experienced an allergic reaction were found to be using an average of only six strategies. Those same people increased their strategies to 15 after experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
Eating out can be a challenge for people with allergies. But using strategies and finding the ones that work for you and your family can help minimise any risk of allergic reactions.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
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