Food allergy has increased in prevalence in recent years. 1 in 10 babies* now suffer from food allergies. Whilst children often outgrow milk and egg allergy, peanut, tree nut, sesame, fish, and shellfish allergy are very often lifelong. More and more people now live with the risk of a potentially life threatening allergic reaction to common proteins found in the what are for most, very healthy foods.
The most common allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, sesame, wheat and soy.
As a member of the food industry, it is important that you are aware of food allergy and anaphylaxis and play your part in creating safer food choices for those at risk.
By becoming a subscriber of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, you will not only have available the support and resources you need but will also have direct access to those who can help you raise awareness of a fast growing public health issue.
Remember, food allergies can be life threatening - there is currently no cure. Education is the key to management.
Food choices for the food allergic individual
We all struggle with food choices from time to time, but for people with food allergies, food choices are of the utmost importance. Without any cure for allergy, avoidance of the allergen or trigger is vital to keeping sufferers safe.
Whilst the individual at risk or their carer is responsible in managing their food allergy, management often also means placing trust in others. This includes parents, school teachers, relatives, the food industry and food outlets like restaurants, cafes and clubs.
People with food allergies need to ensure their foods have ingredient traceability from paddock through to plate, so all aspects of food preparation and serving are important. Food manufacturers and those in the foodservice industry must put strict protocols in place, from storage and supply of raw material through to the preparation, processing and packaging, storage and serving of meals and food products.
Ultimately, people with food allergies have to rely on food labels and food outlet staff providing accurate information them when making their decisions on whether or not a meal or packaged food is safe for them to eat. When we talk about the risk of a food allergic reaction, we cannot ever say risk can be eliminated. If eating packaged food or food prepared by someone else, there is always a greater risk. It is important the consumer with allergies has access to the information required so they can make an informed decision on the level of risk and therefore decide on whether or not they will eat the food.
Free online training courses are available from the National Allergy Strategy, a partnership between Australia’s peak allergy bodies, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA).
The first food allergy training course has seen almost 11,000 food service industry workers from all over Australia enrol since its launch in July 2017. The next stage of the training program launched in late July 2019, provides information specific to cooks and chefs and aims to educate them on the safest way to handle, prepare, cook and store food to prevent food-related allergic reactions.
There are two versions of the new training program; one for general food services such as restaurants and cafes, and one for camp food services, such as school camps or sports camps.
Free to access for all users and delivered in a convenient online format that can be completed at the user’s convenience, All About Allergens: The next step for cooks and chefs has been developed for anyone providing a food service and builds upon the All about Allergens training for food service course which should be completed first.
The comprehensive program provides need to know information relevant for those in the food service industry and is presented using videos and interactive activities. It is available via a National Allergy Strategy website - foodallergytraining.org.au - see all the courses providing access to training that is fast, easy and free.
Reporting a Reaction
If you have an allergic reaction to a suspect food please follow instructions on the NEW Report a reaction FLOW CHART to help you report a reaction and get a food or a facility investigated by the health department.
* Osborne et al. Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and
predetermined challenge criteria in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunolol 2011; 127: 668-676
Content updated July 2017