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Study concludes that food allergies can overwhelm families.

Parents of food-allergic children are often overwhelmed with the wide-ranging tasks and lifestyle limitations that help keep their child safe according to a report published last month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Researchers found that stress levels and daily activities-especially meal preparation, social events and school attendance-were significantly impacted by food allergy management strategies.

The Food and Drug Administration's Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) now requires food manufacturers to disclose in plain language whether products contain any of the top eight food allergens, which are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts (a legume), tree nuts, wheat and soy. Food products without this new labeling may be found in stores for possibly a year or longer after FALCPA's January 1, 2006 effective date. As a result, parents must frequently contact the manufacturers to determine if a food is safe for their food-allergic child according to the investigators. Caregivers of food-allergic children also need to be aware of possible cross-contamination that may not be included in labeling.

More than 60 percent of the study participants reported that food allergy significantly affected meal preparation. Approximately half of them reported food allergy affected family social activities, with 53 percent to 70 percent noting restrictions in playing at friends' houses, or attending birthday parties and sleepovers.

Investigators found that food allergy had a significant impact on school activities, limiting attendance (one third), field trips (59 percent) and school parties (68 percent). Ten percent of caregivers chose to home school their child due to food allergy.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Date:Apr 17, 2006
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