Food allergy is an immune response to a food or a substance, normally a protein or glyco-protein, found in a food naturally or by contamination, or produced by processing, cooking or digestion.
In extreme cases, anaphylactic shock can happen. The whole body is affected often within minutes of exposure to the allergen but sometimes after hours. Anaphylactic shock is usually caused by food, insect stings such as bees, latex and drugs eg aspirin. The symptoms range from rash, swelling of the mouth/throat, difficulty in breathing, drop in blood pressure, collapse, unconsciousness and death.
There are considered to be eight major serious food allergens which include milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, shellfish, fish, soy and tree nuts (eg almond, brazil, cashew, hazelnut) which cause 90% of all food allergic reactions. The peanut is one of the chief foods to cause severe anaphylactic reactions or true allergic reaction.
As a caterer, you need to consider the following:
If you cannot guarantee that the food is free of food allergens, you should never guess as you can be prosecuted or cause an allergic reaction to a customer.
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