Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

Information Update – Health Canada Reinforces the Importance of Food Allergy Awareness

May 7, 2012

OTTAWA, May 7, 2012 /CNW/ – Health Canada is reminding Canadians of the
importance of allergy awareness. For those individuals with food
allergies, severe allergic reactions can occur quickly and without
warning, and some foods can be life-threatening to people of all ages,
particularly children.

It is estimated, based on clinically documented cases, that
approximately 1.8 million Canadians may be affected by food allergies.
Some studies indicate that these numbers are increasing, especially
among children. Peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, soy, seafood, wheat,
eggs, milk, mustard and sulphites are the food allergens most commonly
associated with severe allergic reactions in Canada.

When someone ingests even a tiny amount of an allergen, the symptoms of
a reaction may develop quickly and become very serious. The most
dangerous symptoms include breathing difficulties or a drop in blood
pressure with shock, which may result in loss of consciousness,
anaphylaxis and even death.

There is no cure for food allergies. Avoiding an allergen is the only
effective way to prevent allergic reactions. There are many important
steps that you can take to help protect yourself.  Some general tips

        --  Read product labels very carefully as manufacturers sometimes
            change the ingredients used in familiar products.
        --  Avoid food products that contain the specific allergens and/or
            derivatives of the specific allergens to which you are
        --  Avoid food products that bear a precautionary statement naming
            an allergen that you are allergic to; for example,
            precautionary statements like "may contain X" (where "X" is the
            name of a commonly known allergen).
        --  Avoid food products that don't list their ingredients or food
            products that contain an ingredient that you don't recognize.
        --  When eating at a friend's or in a restaurant, tell your
            host/server about your food allergy, and ask specific questions
            about the food being served.
        --  If an allergist prescribes an epinephrine/adrenaline
            auto-injector, learn how to use it properly and carry it with
            you at all times.
        --  Always wear a MedicAlert identifier so that, in case of an
            accident, others know about your allergies and reactions.
        --  Look out for allergens listed by other names; food allergens
            and their derivatives are sometimes found in food under
            different names.

For more information on allergy awareness, please visit:

Government of Canada’s Tip Sheet on Avoiding Common Allergens in Food

Health Canada’s webpage on Food Allergies

It’s Your Health article on Food Allergens

Également disponible en français

SOURCE Health Canada

Source: PR Newswire