According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, which sponsors Food Allergy Awareness Week, food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis (a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction) outside the hospital setting, and results in more than 30,000 emergency room visits each year. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, etc.), wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.
"Over the last 10 years, we've seen a doubling of the incidence of food allergies in children," said Anne Muñoz-Furlong, FAAN CEO and founder. "Until there's a cure, it's critical that we all work together to protect these children."
Because most allergic reactions to food occur as a result of eating
something that was believed to be safe, it is especially important to learn how to "Be a PAL." All it takes is five easy steps:
Never take food allergies lightly.
Don't share food with friends who have food allergies.
Wash hands after eating.
Ask what your friends are allergic to, and help them avoid those foods.
If a friend who has food allergies becomes ill, get help immediately.
"When it comes to food allergies, anyone can 'Be a PAL,'" Muñoz-Furlong said. "Food allergies impact every single American, and if we work together we can save lives."
Food Allergy Awareness Week comes on the heels of a mass visit to
Washington, D.C., May 1-2, by more than 100 youth who have food allergies.
They will be coming from across the nation, accompanied by their families, for the FAAN Kid's Congress on Capitol Hill, and will meet with legislators to get support for food allergy legislation, such as the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act, which calls on the federal government to create national guidelines for managing students with food allergies. You can find out more about the FAAN Kid's Congress, Food Allergy Awareness Week, food allergy legislation, and food allergy in general by visiting FAAN's Web site, www.foodallergy.org.
Founded in 1991, FAAN is the world leader in information about food allergy, a potentially fatal condition that afflicts approximately 12 million Americans, or one out of every 25, and is rapidly increasing in prevalence. A nonprofit based in Fairfax, Va., FAAN has 30,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and 62 other countries.
The organization is dedicated to increasing public awareness of food allergy and its consequences, to educating people about the condition, and to advancing research on behalf of all those affected by it.
FAAN provides information and educational resources about food allergy to patients, their families, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials.
The FAAN Medical Advisory Board, which reviews all of the organization's educational materials, is comprised of 14 of the leaders in food allergy science and medicine in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to its printed materials, FAAN also sponsors such awareness programs as Food Allergy Awareness Week, the Mariel C. Furlong Awards for Making a Difference, food allergy conferences, and fundraising walks.