Is it food poisoning or a food allergy? It?s important to know the similarities and the differences.

April 14th, 2009

Food born illness has had a lot of recent press

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) there are more than 160 foods that can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies, the law identifies the eight most common allergenic foods. These foods account for 90 percent of food allergic reactions, and are the food sources from which many other ingredients are derived. Some of these products have been in the news recently for other issues in the food safety area.

The law requires that the following eight foods be indentified as allergenic.

Crustacean shellfish
Tree nuts

These eight foods, and any ingredient that contains protein derived from one or more of them, are designated as “major food allergens” by the law.

The law also requires that food labels identify the food source of all major food allergens. It must be included in one of two ways. The name of the food source of a major food allergen must appear in parentheses following the name of the ingredient. By example, “lecithin (soy),” “flour (wheat),” and “whey (milk)? or immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a “contains” statement. By example, “Contains Wheat, Milk, and Soy.”

The symptoms of food allergies can appear within a few minutes or up to two hours after a person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic. Some of these symptoms can be similar to food poisoning or food born illness symptoms.

Flushed skin or rash
Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth
Face, tongue, or lip swelling
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Abdominal cramps
Coughing or wheezing
Dizziness and/or lightheadedness
Swelling of the throat and vocal cords
Difficulty breathing
Loss of consciousness

It?s important to read the food labeling if you are sensitive to these or other food groups and avoid those allergens in question.

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