5 things about food allergies in Australia

There is a good chance that a number of students in your school are affected by food allergies. According to the ABS, 17% of Australians now avoid particular foods due to an allergy or intolerance. That’s a whopping 7.3 million Australians!

Understanding the problem and knowing what to do is important, and could save someone’s life. So here are 5 things you need to know about food allergies in Australia.

1. Food allergy vs food intolerance

Food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to digestive problems.

Food allergies cause an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body causing a range of symptoms, which in some cases can be severe or life-threatening (anaphylaxis).

2. Food allergies can develop at any age

Food allergies are most common in children aged under 5 years old, many children ‘outgrow’ their allergy with time. When food allergies develop for the first time in adults, it usually persists.

1 in 10 infants have food allergies    1 in 20 children have food allergies (aged up to 5)    2 in 100 adults have food allergies

3. Hospital admissions from allergies have doubled

“Australia has one of the highest rates of documented food allergy and hospital anaphylaxis admissions in the developed world,” write the researchers in Clinical & Experimental Allergy.

Over the last decade, hospital admissions for severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) have doubled in Australia, with admissions of children aged 0 to 4 years increasing 5 fold according to ASCIA. There have been 324 food related anaphylaxis deaths in Australia from 1997 to 2013, with 23 deaths from food related allergies according to the Allergen Bureau.

2 x Increase in hospitalisation from allergies    5 x Increase in children hospitalised from allergies    324 - Deaths from anaphylaxis

4. 90% of allergic reactions are caused by 9 foods

Peanuts - Eggs - Cows milk

Tree nuts - Sesame - Soy

Fish - Shellfish - Wheat

5. Living with a food allergy

There is currently no cure for food allergies, which means strict avoidance is essential. To reduce the risk of an allergic reaction to food, ASCIA recommends the following precautions: 

Carry an adrenaline Autoinjector - Carry a ASCIA Action Plan with you at all times - Know the signs & symptoms - Read and understand food labels - Tell wait staff of food allergies when eating out - Be aware of cross contamination when preparing food

Know what to do when people have allergic reactions with CareMonkey

The problem with most allergy action plans is too few people have them, and when they do the plans are filed away and not easily accessible when needed in an emergency.

CareMonkey is an award-winning health and safety system that automatically keeps medical and emergency details up to date for any organisation with a duty of care. It makes these important details instantly available to authorised carers on their mobile devices in an emergency…so they know who to call, what to do, or what to tell an ambulance paramedic. CareMonkey automates the permission and consent form process too and can collect any other custom information. It’s used by schools, universities, in sport, in HR, scouts, church and youth groups, the disability sector and camps.

No doubt, your school has an allergy action plan but with CareMonkey, all medical and emergency details are instantly available to authorised carers on their mobile devices in an emergency. CareMonkey for Schools is a mobile health and safety solution that gives authorised teachers and carers instant access to important medical and emergency contact details when an incident occurs.

For this article in full, including great graphics visit the CareMonkey website at caremonkey.com or go direct to the article here

CareMonkey will waive the set up and training fee of $200 for ASCA member schools. Visit caremonkey.com to sign your school up today.