The Australian Food Standards Code contains a list of common allergens and food intolerances — from cereals containing gluten and their products, (namely, wheat, rye, barley oats and spelt) to crustacea (shellfish) and their products, egg and fish products, milk, peanuts and soybeans, added sulphites and tree nuts and sesame seeds.
While food intolerances can make people ill, and cause a range of unpleasant symptoms similar to the effects of food poisoning, true food allergy is more dangerous and in severe cases can even be life-threatening.
Different people have different reactions depending on the severity of their allergy, but over time even those with an originally mild form of food allergy can become more sensitised.
Severe food allergy can trigger anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction which is treated as a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment and urgent attention. The reaction usually occurs within 20 minutes of exposure to the allergen and can result in difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue, swelling or tightness of throat, wheeze or persistent cough, loss of consciousness or collapse.
Further details are available at www.allergyfacts.com.au, the website of Anaphylaxis Australia.
The most common food triggers for anaphylaxis, according to the Anaphylaxis Australia website, are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, crustaceans and soy products. These cause 90 per cent of allergic reactions. However any food can trigger anaphylaxis and even trace elements can cause a life-threatening reaction. This is why cross-contamination risk minimisation procedures are so important in your kitchen (for full details see here).
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