Food allergies have been on the rise in the past decade, but fortunately, it has been recognized by food manufacturers.
There are many foods available that are now peanut or egg free, two of the top food allergies, the number one in Canada being peanuts. Other popular food allergies include shellfish, milk, tree nuts, soy and gluten.
Some allergic reactions to food allergens can be mild, while others can be deadly. As such, extra care is needed when shopping to ensure you are buying foods that are completely free of the allergens harmful to you and your family.
There are obvious foods you wouldn’t buy when trying to avoid a food allergen. But oftentimes, it's the trace amounts of certain ingredients put in foods, or manufactured in a facility that produces foods with those ingredients, you have to look out for.
This can mostly be found in processed or packaged foods, so other than buying fresh fruits and vegetables and other fresh foods, the simple answer is to make sure you read the labels.
If someone is allergic to milk, you obviously won’t buy dairy, but there are all sorts of breads, pastries and instant foods like soups and even in some seasonings that contain milk in the ingredients.
Egg allergies can be just as tricky because many breads, baked goods and pastas contain them, and milk can be in other forms such as ovo and albumin, to name a couple.
When you are at the deli counter, if someone is allergic to fish and it is being handled by the same person who handles the beef, make sure to ask them if they could use new gloves and make sure the counters aren’t cross-contaminated.
The best way to avoid any accidents is to research which products and foods are safe from the harmful allergens you need to avoid. Also, try to familiarize yourself with the other names or other forms (like ovo for milk) so you know how to read labels correctly.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) enforces Canadian food labelling laws and works with both food manufacturers and distributors to ensure complete and transparent labelling of all foods. For more information on food labelling standards, visit the CFIA website.
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