What is a food allergy?

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Food allergy occurs when someone eats food and gets ill or even dies because they are hypersensitive to the food. This is not because the food has germs in it but because their body adversely reacts to the food. The reactions could be from mild to fatal as in rashes, swellings, reddening of the eyes or skin, itchiness, difficult breathing, shock or death.

People could be allergic to any kind of food but below are popular ingredients that people are allergic to and the foods where they may be found:

Groundnut (peanuts): The nuts themselves, peanut butter, groundnut soup, ground nut candy and groundnut oil.

Nuts: Cookies, cakes, ice cream, marzipan, nut oils and flour.

Soya: in the form of milk, soya flour, tofu and in some vegetarian or meat products.

Milk: Dairy products like yoghurt, ice cream, cheese, butter and just plain milk.

Mustard: Mustard seeds, oil, paste, in salad dressings, marinades, curries and meat products.

Sesame/benne seeds: In the oil, tahini paste, shawarma, houmous and on bread.

Eggs: Cakes, pastry, mousses, mayonnaise, sandwiches and sauces.

Sea food: like fish, prawns, shrimps, oyster, scampi, mussels and crab. These could be in stews, soups and bottled products like fish, oyster, soy or Worcestershire sauce.

Gluten: Wheat, rye or barley flour products like cakes, bread, biscuits, pies and breakfast cereals.

Celery: Celery leaf, sticks, seeds, salt and the foods that contain them.

Not everybody has food allergies however if you do, the following tips are helpful:

  • Avoid the food you are allergic to, don’t take chances.
  • When eating out, ask if the food contains what you are allergic to.
  • Cultivate the habit of reading food labels.
  • When you are cooking for yourself, make sure you know the contents of condiments you are using like oils, dressings, relishes, chutney, pickles and sauces.
  • When you are cooking for an allergic person, make sure you read food labels and if you have previously cooked with the incriminating ingredient, clear and wash thoroughly before further food preps.
  • Treatment of symptoms is by anti-histamine or adrenaline medications. However this should not be administered without prescription from a doctor.

For more information visit: food.gov.uk/allergy or www.nhs.uk/foodallergy

For a chocolate cake recipe for a lovely little girl with allergies check out http://afrolems.com/2013/12/03/guest-post-chocolate-vegan-cake-by-anaya/

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