❓Often people ask me what they should do when they see a "𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯" label.
⁉️My first question to them is, how many variations of that wording have they seen?
✅In a study done many years ago, the researchers found over 20 different ways of writing an allergy warning in food.
▶️They asked people how they would act, depending on what was written, and the variability was incredible.
𝐒𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰, 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐯𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞.
✅Several other studies went to see what was the actual variation of allergen concentration.
✳What did they find?
➡️In products with a warning, 6.5 to 93% contained an allergen.
➡️In products without a warning, 11 to 53% contained an allergen.
⚠️In reality, there is still a significant risk of a not labelled food, to contain a substantial amount of allergens.
❓But why is it that the food industry has this massive variability in warnings they use and still have so much potential cross-contamination of allergens?
❌The problem tracks back to political parties, the way they are funded or the individual politician's financial interest.
❗What I am saying might be controversial, but let's look at what is known.
⚠️Most of you have never heard of the "𝘌𝘶𝘳𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘍𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘶𝘮".
🔻This is the most powerful lobby within the 𝘌𝘜 – the 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐲 𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐛𝐲.
🔻They have offices inside the 𝘌𝘶𝘳𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 and manage to block all resolutions that can lead to improvement of food quality when this affects the profit the food industry has.
🔻It is easy to see what they have done so far, as most are widely published. (the list is far too long for me to place it here).
⚠️In the 𝘜𝘚𝘈 alone, in the 2014 elections, the food industry donated $𝟏𝟕𝐌, in total, to both parties.
❇This comes to the 𝐏'𝐬 I have spoken about before.
Those, also called 𝐄𝐃'𝐬 (𝘌𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘋𝘰𝘴𝘦), look into the dose needed to cause an allergic reaction and the percentage of allergic people who will react.
✅So a 𝐏𝟏 or 𝐄𝐃𝟏 means that the potential cross-contamination in a particular food will lead to 1% or fewer allergic people reacting to that food.
✴The best collaboration done so far is the one between the food industry in Australia, the Government and Allergy Organizations.
(see the attached table to see the ED for the 14 main allergens)
⛔Such an agreement does not exist in the 𝘌𝘜 at present.
✴The hope for the 𝘜𝘒, at the moment, is that the so called "𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐚'𝐬 𝐋𝐚𝐰" will lead to a change in this practice.
▶️But we need to go deeper than simple labelling, look into manufacturing practices, and avoid allergens altogether.
⚠️Sometimes, when having an 𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐫𝐠𝐢𝐜 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, it can become a more severe reaction.
✳The most severe allergic reactions are called 𝐀𝐧𝐚𝐩𝐡𝐲𝐥𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐬.
📝The definition of 𝐀𝐧𝐚𝐩𝐡𝐲𝐥𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐬 is not uniform worldwide.
For you to have an idea, the WAO (𝘞𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘈𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘺 𝘖𝘳𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘻𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯), the WHO (𝘞𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘏𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘩 𝘖𝘳𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘻𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯), the AAAAI (𝘈𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘈𝘤𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘈𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘺, 𝘈𝘴𝘵𝘩𝘮𝘢 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺), the EAACI (𝘌𝘶𝘳𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘈𝘤𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘈𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘊𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘐𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺) and the ASCIA (𝘈𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘚𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘐𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘈𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘺), all have slightly different definitions.
✴The one I like the most is actually the ASCIA one:
"𝘈 𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘪𝘥𝘭𝘺 𝘦𝘷𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘪-𝘴𝘺𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘮 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘺𝘮𝘱𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘴 𝘰𝘳 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺, 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘪𝘰𝘷𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘺𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥/𝘰𝘳 𝘎𝘐 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵."
Given this, how do we know it is 𝐀𝐧𝐚𝐩𝐡𝐲𝐥𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐬 or not
⬆️Have a look at the image above.
❓What to do if you think you, or your child, are having an anaphylactic reaction?
▶️If you are sure it is, give 𝐀𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞.
▶️If you are unsure it is, STILL GIVE 𝐀𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞.
▶️If you are sure it is not, ONLY in this case, give 𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐡𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬.
‼️In ALL circumstances (or if you don't have an Adrenaline AutoInjector), 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝟗𝟗𝟗 and ALWAYS ask for 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩.
✅(𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘨𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘮 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘥𝘳𝘢𝘧𝘵 𝘰𝘯𝘦, 𝘸𝘢𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘥)
🔶️It is important to know that 𝐀𝐧𝐚𝐩𝐡𝐲𝐥𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐬 is a 𝐫𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭, and most times, it 𝐃𝐎𝐄𝐒 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡.
🆕️In fact, recently published research said there had been a significant increase in hospital admissions with Anaphylaxis, but a decrease in deaths.
This seems like a contradiction, but it is not.
⁉️Why is that?
✅On the one hand, we know there is a significant increase in the incidence of allergies, so naturally, the number of Anaphylactic cases will increase.
✅But on the other hand, the health care professionals awareness has increased, leading to better recognition and prescription of appropriate medication.
I will put my hands down, and agree with whoever tells me what is done, is still not enough.
The bottom line is:
➡ ️𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐠𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐞 it Fast.
➡️Have your 𝐦𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 with you AT ALL TIMES!
🆘️Ask for 𝐇𝐄𝐋𝐏!
Dr Costa is a Consultant Paediatrician and fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.