Food allergies can range from merely irritating to life-threatening. Approximately 30,000 Americans go to the emergency room each year to get treated for severe food allergies, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). It is estimated that 150 to 200 Americans die each year because of allergic reactions to food.
Food allergies affect about two percent of adults and four to eight percent of children in the United States, and the number of young people with food allergies has increased over the last decade, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children with food allergies are more likely to have asthma, eczema, and other types of allergies.
Though it's often portrayed as a scourge of the teen years, acne can affect people of all ages. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30 have outbreaks of the skin disorder at some point.
"Many see their acne go away by the time they reach their 30s," says Jane Liedtka, a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). "But for some, acne persists into their 40s and 50s...
Some food allergies can be outgrown. Studies have shown that the severity of food allergies can change throughout a person’s life.
"There is no cure for food allergies," says Stefano Luccioli, M.D., senior medical advisor in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Food Additive Safety (OFAS). "The best way for consumers to protect themselves is by avoiding food items that will cause a reaction." OFAS is part of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).
To reduce the risks from allergic reactions, FDA is working to ensure that major allergenic ingredients in food are accurately labeled in accordance with the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA). Allergenic ingredients are substances that are capable of causing an allergic reaction.
In addition, there has been widespread use of allergen advisory labels on products that may have allergenic ingredients that were introduced by way of cross contact during the manufacturing process. Cross contact occurs when a residue or other trace amount of an allergenic food is unintentionally incorporated into another food.
Because FALPCA does not require the declaration of allergenic ingredients introduced through cross contact, FDA is developing a long-term strategy that will help manufacturers use voluntary allergen advisory labeling that:
Is not misleading
Conveys a clear and uniform message
Adequately informs food-allergic consumers and their caregivers