The Food and Drug Administration requires that food labels list the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies.
According to the FDA, all labels must clearly identify the food source names of all ingredients containing the following eight ingredients:
- Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
- Crustacean shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
- Tree nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, pecans)
These eight ingredients are defined as major food allergens by the FDA. Labels must clearly state the food source name of all major food allergens either in parentheses or immediately following the list of ingredients.
This law makes it simpler for parents to protect their kids from food allergies. However, parents can't be with kids all the time. One of the most dangerous times for kids with allergies is during lunchtime at school.
One of the most common foods packed in school lunches is peanut butter, a long-time favorite of many kids. In a recent article on BackupCare.org, some suggestions are given for keeping kids with peanut allergies safe at school.
Kids have less control over the foods they are served than adults. If your child is living with a peanut allergy, it's important to talk together about handling exposure to peanuts at school.
Even young children can be taught not to share food. Since many foods contain peanuts, your child won't know whether a snack contains peanuts. It's best to teach your child to just say no to sharing foods.
Teachers, staff and administration should be aware of your child's peanut allergy. You are your child's advocate so make sure the information has been shared.
Your child needs to be aware of the symptoms of an allergic reaction. You should also teach your child the words to use to tell a teacher or other adult that he's suffering from a reaction to peanuts.
Your child's school should have auto-injectors on hand to immediately care for children who are suffering a severe allergic reaction to peanuts. Coordinate this with your child's doctor and school nurse.
Some schools have become peanut-free or contain peanut-free tables in the cafeteria. Talk with your school's principal or the local school board about steps that can be taken to further protect children from peanut allergies.
Whether your child is dealing with peanut allergies or other food allergies, it's important to give him the tools needed to protect himself when you're not there.
By discussing your child's allergies in a way he can understand, you can help him protect himself.