By Adem Lewis / in , , /

The number of people with food
allergies appears to be on the rise. Current research suggests that around
10 percent of American adults are allergic to one more foods. So, chances are good that you or someone you know
has a diet restricted by food allergies. In this video, we’ll cover: what food allergies
are, the most common foods associated with them, and tips for making Tufts an inclusive,
healthy place for everyone to eat. Often collectively referred to as “allergies,”
only some are True food allergies caused by an immune response. Allergic reactions range in severity from
rashes and swelling of the tongue and throat, to anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. Food intolerances cause stomach pain and GI
distress but do not involve an immune response. In these cases, the body can’t digest certain
foods properly. Understanding the difference is important. A person with lactose intolerance may need
to avoid some dairy products, but someone with a dairy allergy must avoid all of them. 8 foods trigger about 90 percent of food allergies:
peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fin and shellfish, soy, dairy, and wheat. These ingredients often hide in processed
foods and mixed dishes, so checking ingredient lists is critical. So, how can you help make Tufts
a safe place for everyone to eat? First: communicate. When hosting an event that provides free food,
advertise what will be served ahead of time. Clearly label food at your event that definitely
or likely contains common allergens. These steps will help attendees plan ahead
and make safe decisions. Second: prevent cross-contact. People with severe allergies can
become extremely ill due to an improperly shared spoon or stray crumb. Confirm that catered special orders will be
prepared in an allergen-free environment. Always wash your hands before
handling allergen-free foods. If possible, serve nuts, peanuts, and wheat
products at a separate table. Make sure serving utensils are
not shared among dishes. And finally: protect yourself and each other. If you need dietary accommodations Tufts has
resources that can help you get the nutrition you need. If a friend or classmate has a food allergy,
just understand that avoiding some foods is not a choice for them. OK, let’s recap. Remember to communicate what you serve at
free food events, practice proper food safety to avoid cross-contact with peanuts, tree
nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, fin and shellfish, and speak up if you have food allergies, and
listen when you hear that your classmates do. For more information about food allergies
check out these links. And for more health and wellness resources,
check out Tufts’ Health Promotion and Prevention website.

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