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POSTED: 11:36 EST Apr 28, 2009 / UPDATED: 08:35 EST May 18, 2009

Food Allergy Awareness Week - May 10-16, 2009
Food Allergy Awareness Week - May 10-16, 2009

"FOOD ALLERGY AWARENESS WEEK - MAY 10-16, 2009

Food allergy reactions cause 50,000 visits to the emergency room and 150 deaths each year. Individuals unknowingly eating a food containing an ingredient to which they are allergic cause the deaths.

Children are the largest group affected by food allergies. Researchers estimate that approximately 12 million Americans have food allergies. Symptons can include hives, vomating, diarrhea, respiratory distress, and swelling of the throat.

Eight foods cause 90% of all food allergy reactions. These foods are shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, and wheat.

There is no cure for potentially fatal food allergies. Strict avoidance of the offending food is the only way to prevent a reaction.

Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe allergic reation involving major organs in the body simultaneously. In severe allergic individuals, it can cause death in a matter of minutes.

Eating in restaurants and at school are the situations posing the highest risk for people with food allergies. Often, wait staff and cafeteria staffs are not aware of the ingredients used to prepare the food they are serving, and they are unprepared to handle a reaction.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FANN) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about food allergies and anaphylaxis, a potentially life-theatening allergic reaction.

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