Educational Packet Could Help Those with Life-Threatening Food Allergies

June 24, 2009


Chicago – About six percent of children and four percent of adults have food allergies.  An article in the Journal of Food Science Education, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, discussed how an educational packet on coping with allergies was created and tested with 46 adults with food allergies to learn if the materials would useful.  The packet addressed how those with severe food allergies have significant gaps in knowledge about their disease and how to prevent recurrences of allergic reactions.

The “Big 8” foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, cow's milk, eggs, wheat and soy. Fruits and vegetables comprise another important food allergy trigger. Anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction affecting multiple organ systems, is the most severe and life-threatening response to a food allergy.

User input was important in the development and evaluation of the information in the packet. “It provided data on how difficult it is for persons with tree nut or peanut allergies to completely avoid the offending food,” writes lead researcher Bradley Olson of the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis.  “The packet presents information in a text-based and visual format, which is meant for a lay audience.”

The packets were sent to people who had volunteered to be interviewed about food allergies in 2006. Ninety-three percent of participants found the packet to be very clear and easy to read.  The majority reported that all sections of the packet were equally helpful. Most found the topic, “Managing Your Food Allergy,” to be the most useful.

“We believe this packet would be useful for people with food allergies, school teachers and nurses and anyone working or dealing with the preparation, handling or legal monitoring of food,” writes Olson.

To read the study, visit:


About IFT
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is a nonprofit scientific society with more than 20,000 individual members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT serves as a conduit for multidisciplinary science thought leadership, championing the use of sound science through knowledge sharing, education, and advocacy.
For more information on IFT, visit

Jeannie Houchins, MA, RD