Living with food allergies or with someone with food allergies can be stressful; You’re likely constantly cleaning and worrying about cross-contamination, feeling left out at social gatherings surrounding food, a master reader of food labels, and living in constant fear of having an allergic reaction. It’s safe to say that the world of food is tough for all of those affected by food allergies, which is why we’re here to bring you some much-needed relief.
What is a Food Allergy?
In the simplest terms, a food allergy is an immune response to a food that your body has misidentified as harmful. A food allergy is more severe than a food intolerance/sensitivity and must be diagnosed by a professional as soon as any symptoms are present.
What Can I Eat If I Have a Food Allergy?
Those with a food allergy can not consume any amount of the identified allergen(s). Consumption of the identified allergen(s) can result in severe symptoms including constricted airways, hives, anaphylaxis, and even death. If you have a food allergy you must completely remove the food(s) from your diet.
Tips for Living With or With Someone with a Food Allergy:
- Learn to Read Food Labels: In Canada, food products are required to have an allergy statement if any allergens are present. Nonetheless, manufacturers constantly change recipes or food packaging. Ensure to always read the ingredients list and check the package thoroughly for any allergen statements. Additionally, talk with your allergist to determine the severity of your food allergy. Some may require that all food packages be 100% free of allergens, whereas others may be able to consume products with “may contain” statements or products produced on shared equipment/facilities where the allergen is present.
- Practice Proper Sanitation: If food allergies are a concern for you, you’ll need to learn about cross-contamination and proper hygiene. Cross-contamination is when a potential allergen may have come in contact with a surface. Cross-contamination is common with cutting boards, cooking utensils, and food handling. Ensure to always wash your hands and properly cleanse all surfaces and equipment.
- Wear your Food Allergy with Pride: Food allergies should not be kept a secret. Ensure that anyone that may come into contact with you or your food is aware of your food allergy, including restaurants.
- Shop Allergen-Free Foods: There are several food brands that dedicate themselves to producing allergen-free food products. These brands typically state on the packaging that they are allergen-free. These products will significantly reduce the risk of the allergen coming into contact with you while allowing you to enjoy your favourite foods stress-free.
- Sharing is Life Saving: Although you may want to keep your allergen-friendly goodies all to yourself, it may be a good idea to get your social circle hooked onto these goodies too. The more people that eat allergen-free food, the smaller the risk of experiencing an allergic reaction.
- Be Prepared: The world was unfortunately not designed to work around food allergies. For this reason, you may experience times when you can not eat any of the food that is available. Therefore, you should never leave the house without an allergen-friendly snack in your bag. Additionally, it is good practice to scout out restaurant menus prior to attending to ensure that you’ll have something to eat. And, most importantly never leave your home without any allergy medication that could save your life.
Where Can I Find Allergen-Free Food?
At Natura Market, we are committed to serving the allergen-affected community. We are consistently adding new snacks and meal ingredients to our Big 8 Allergen-Free Category that identify as allergen-friendly. This means, no “may contain” statements, no “produced in a facility that also processes…”, and no “made on shared equipment” statements. All of the products in this category are as stated by the manufacturer, “Free of the Top 8 Priority allergens” or even ”Free of the Top 11 Allergens”.
In Canada, the Top 8 Priority Allergens are:
- Wheat/Gluten and Triticale
- Tree Nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts)
- Shellfish (Crustaceans and mollusks)
In addition to these priority allergens, Canada also recognizes the following as common allergens, for a total of 11 allergens.
- Sesame seeds
In this category, you’ll find both foods that are free of the top 8 allergens and/or free of the top 11 allergens. Nonetheless, it is always recommended to read the food label to ensure that the product is suitable for your diet. In this category, you’ll find anything from allergen-free cookies to allergen-free pasta to allergen-friendly baking ingredients. We encourage you to share your allergen-friendly goodies with everyone you know. Let’s make the world safe for everyone with food allergies.