April 23, 2021

By STEPH SMITH

An article was published in the Hamilton Spectator on Sept. 15 about a mom who removed her six-year-old daughter from school because she has severe anaphylaxis to dairy, eggs and fish. The girl has suffered from anaphylactic shock seven times, most recently at school last February, and she has to carry two EpiPens (an epinephrine auto-injection device used by people who suffer severe allergies and risk anaphylactic shock) because of the seriousness of her allergies.
An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder where the immune system reacts to substances in the environment or ingredients in food and medicine. Ninety per cent of food allergies are caused by dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.
Unfortunately, many foods contain, or have traces of, these ingredients.  They can most commonly be found in baked goods, sauces and dressings, fried foods, seasonings, deli meats, candy, chocolates, food mixes, cereals, pastas and almost all packaged foods to name a few.
According to a 2012 Anaphylaxis Canada study on self-reported food allergies, approximately 2.5 million Canadians of all ages are affected.
A huge problem with allergies when it comes to schools and workplaces is that there is no way to guarantee that these facilities will be food allergen-free.
People who aren’t allergic to these ingredients sometimes have little regard for those who are, or sometimes they forget that what they’re eating for lunch could cause someone to react. Oftentimes a person’s allergies are so severe that they can cause death.
Sometimes it’s not even ingesting the food that causes a reaction. Touching a surface that has food residue on it and then eating, or rubbing your eye, can cause a reaction. Sometimes even the smell of the food can trigger one as well.
Looking for these ingredients is made even harder because they tend to go by different names. Eggs, for example, can be listed as ovo, meringue and albumin.
Avoiding these foods altogether is tough, but not eating them in cafeterias and other high traffic areas, as well as regular hand washing, can help to alleviate the problem.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.