Quick Study [kwik stuhd-ee]: The Huffington Post Canada's tips to make your life a little sweeter, five minutes at a time. Think of it as a cheatsheet for your general well-being.
If you're unable to tell the difference between the words "may contain trace amounts of peanuts" and "manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts", then you're not alone. That's according to a Canadian study published earlier this month. The study called for both Canadian health agencies and US food agencies to reduce the number of existing allergy labels because the current number leaves consumers without a clear message.
"We should narrow (various allergy labels) to only one which will be clear," said Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan. Shoshan worked on the study and is a professor of allergy and immunology at McGill University Health Center in Montreal.
The study looked at the different variations of allergy warnings that shoppers could find in their local grocery store: "may contain" traces of an allergen, "manufactured in a facility" that processes such allergens, and "not suitable" for people with food allergies. The study found that each label had a different success rate in deterring someone from buying a product that they were allergic to or from buying a product that could trigger an allergic reaction to someone in their household.
The study spanned two years and involved over 2,400 people, a mixture of the general public and allergy advocates. The respondents were broken down into two groups: those "directly affected" who had at least one member in the household with a food allergy, and those "indirectly affected," who supply foods to others with allergies, such as daycare centres and schools.The study found the following, among other information:
- Roughly 44 per cent of the directly affected from the general public said they would buy a product which warned it "may contain" a particular allergen.
- Sixteen per cent of consumers indirectly affected by food allergies were stilling willing to buy a product that may contain an allergen that either they or someone in their household were allergic to.
- The most effective label in preventing the purchase of a product with an allergen was the "not suitable" label.
The large share of adults willing to gamble with their lives to try foods that might cause an allergic reaction has some medical professionals concerned.
"They think they can get away with a certain amount (of restricted foods) before having a reaction. I really caution them not to take chances with their health," Dr. Rauno Joks, chief of allergy and immunology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, told Fox News.
It's estimated that 2.5 million Canadians suffer from food allergies, which vary in symptoms from itchiness to breathing problems and in the most extreme cases, death.
Health Canada is set to put new food allergen labels into effect on August 4.
-- Cow's milk products hide in many food products including, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, salad dressings, prepared meals and baked goods. Dairy products also include milk and cheese made from goat, sheep and buffalo. Always read ingredients, and look for byproducts of milk such as lactose, whey, and sodium or calcium caseinate. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that most children who had a milk allergy as infants did not outgrow the disease before entering elementary school. According to one of the researchers, Dr. Robert Wood, chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, that their findings were contrary to previous research that children "outgrow" dairy allergies by the age of three years old. Switch to organic rice, hemp, almond, coconut and soymilk products and cheese products free of lactose, whey and casein. Flickr photo by mojitopt
The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that gluten can create gastrointestinal problems, even when celiac disease is not present. Common symptoms include stomach cramping, constipation, anxiety and insomnia. Switch to gluten-free grains, including amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and oats. Flickr photo by wEnDaLicious
Sugar sensitivities are extremely common and can lead to brain fog, lethargy, irritability, dizziness, anger, muscle cramps, tiredness, anxiety, restlessness and insomnia. Read labels! If an ingredient name ends in "-ose," it is likely sugar. Switch to whole, unprocessed foods and natural sweeteners such as xylitol or stevia. Flickr photo by JMR_Photography
Foods that are or may contain yeast or mold are varied and include mushrooms, alcohol (a mycotoxin, a metabolic byproduct of fungi), dried fruits, nuts, cheese, wine, beer, bread and even contaminated fresh fruits and vegetables and non-frozen packaged food (crackers, potato and corn chips and rice). Allergy symptoms include headache, itchy skin, bloating, swollen tongue, cold sores and lethargy. Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables well and store properly to minimize mold growth. Flickr photo by little blue hen
According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol can trigger severe allergic reactions and even anaphylactic shock. Alcohol-related allergic reactions include acid reflux, indigestion, nausea, itchy red skin, joint pains, headaches, anxiety, brain fog, migraines (especially after drinking red wine), insomnia and difficulty losing weight. Flickr photo by DeusXFlorida
Eggs are often considered a hidden allergy that can trigger an array of symptoms. My son Cody had an egg allergy. His throat would swell, he would have trouble breathing, and hives would break out all over his body with even a bite of egg-containing food. A study in the Japanese journal Allergy also found that eggs were the most prevalent food allergy to trigger atopic dermatitis, with almost 84 percent of participants with egg allergies suffering this inflammatory skin condition. Flickr photo by jules:stonesoup
Peanut allergy is perhaps the best-known food allergy due to the rapid acceleration and severity of the symptoms, and possible need for emergency medical care. Even a bite of food cooked with peanut oil could send someone into anaphylactic shock. But peanuts can also create delayed reactions since they're contaminated with molds and mycotoxins. Peanut allergy symptoms include hives, rashes and swelling, itching or tingling around the mouth and throat, abdominal pain, diarrhea, shortness of breath and wheezing. Read all labels carefully and watch out for foods that have been processed in manufacturing plants that package peanuts and other nuts. Flickr photo by EuroMagic