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Food Allergy Basics. An informational presentation for educators and support staff. Food Allergies. Food allergies can be life-threatening It’s important to understand the precautions to take to keep students as safe as possible The biggest risk to these students is accidental exposure

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food allergy basics

Food Allergy Basics

An informational presentation for educators and support staff

food allergies
Food Allergies
  • Food allergies can be life-threatening
  • It’s important to understand the precautions to take to keep students as safe as possible
  • The biggest risk to these students is accidental exposure
  • We need to work together as a team to minimize risks and provide a safe environment
food allergy basics1
Food Allergy Basics
  • The role of the immune system is to protect the body from germs and disease
  • A food allergy is an abnormal response by the immune system to a food protein
  • When the food is eaten, the immune system thinks the food is harmful and releases histamine and other chemicals to “attack” the enemy
  • Exposure is anytime a student ingests (eats) or touches the allergen
  • In some cases airborne food protein can be enough to cause a reaction in nut allergies:
    • Food prepared in containers or with utensils that have previously been used with nut products can cause a reaction
food allergy basics2
Food Allergy Basics
  • There is no cure for food allergy
  • Complete and strict avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction
  • Eight foods cause 90% of the allergic reactions in the United States:
      • Milk Peanuts
      • Eggs Tree Nuts
      • Wheat Fish
      • Soy Shellfish
food allergy facts
Food Allergy Facts
  • 4% of US population or 12 million
  • Americans (1 in 25) have a food allergy
  • Children are the largest group affected
    • 4 to 6% of children have a food allergy
    • Growing Problem…Peanut allergy in children doubled in 5 yrs (1997-2002)
symptoms following exposure to allergen
Symptoms Following Exposure to Allergen:

Localized Reaction:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • A serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death
  • Causes of anaphylaxis include foods, insect sting, latex, and medications
  • Each year in the U.S. anaphylaxis to food causes over 30,000 emergency room visits;150-200 deaths
  • Individuals with food allergy plus asthma areat greatest risk for a life-threatening reaction
symptoms following exposure to allergen1
Symptoms Following Exposure to Allergen

Generalized reaction:

  • Vomiting
  • “My mouth feels hot”
  • Coughing, wheezing
  • Swelling of any part of the body
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Dizziness
  • Sense of doom
  • Loss of consciousness
reaction to exposure
Reaction to Exposure
  • Reactions can be unpredictable, so it’s important to always be prepared!
  • A child can have a very severe allergic reaction, even if previous reactions have been mild.
managing food allergies day to day
Managing Food Allergies Day-to-Day
  • Keep the classroom as allergen-free as possible (remove allergens - or the child - immediately if allergen is present)
  • Nut Allergies:

Cafeteria accommodations should be made:

    • Establish a “peanut-free” table near a window or door
    • Do not allow children to use the table or chair at other lunch periods
    • Wash tables with separate cloth
  • Two studies have now shown that up to 25% of reactions to peanut allergy in the school setting are first time reactions
  • It is important that all schools have a plan for recognizing and treating these potentially life threatening allergic emergencies
  • School staff should all be aware of the symptoms of an allergic reaction!
managing food allergies day to day1
Managing Food Allergies Day-to-Day
  • Totally avoid food allergens
  • Wise food choices through vigilant label reading, asking questions
  • Careful food preparation and cleanup
  • Be prepared in case of a reaction
vigilant label reading
Vigilant Label Reading
  • Read every label every time

• Formulations can change without warning

  • Don’t rely on “safe lists”
  • Allergens can be in non-food items
  • Soaps, shampoos, skin products, medications, pet foods
careful food preparation
Careful Food Preparation
  • Wash hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces to avoid reactions from trace amounts of proteins left behind.
    • Liquid soap, bar soap, or commercial wipes for hands not antibacterial gel sanitizers
    • Dishwashing detergent and hot water for cooking utensils and cutting boards
    • Common household cleaners for counters,tables, and other surfaces
be prepared for an allergic reaction
Be Prepared for an Allergic Reaction
  • Accidents are never planned
  • Keys to being prepared:
    • Medications must be immediately available at all times
    • Knowing how to recognize symptoms

and administer medications quickly

    • A written Food Allergy Action Plan
responding to a reaction
Responding to a Reaction
  • Activate the Food Allergy Action Plan Immediately!
  • Recognize the symptoms
  • React quickly
  • Review what caused the reaction and how well the emergency plan worked
successful allergy management
Successful Allergy Management
  • Understand how to determine where allergens are found
  • Keep the environment as safe for the student as possible
  • Know your student and those students you supervise
  • Be prepared to follow your student’s Emergency Care Plan
  • Plan field trips carefully
managing food allergies in schools
Managing Food Allergies in Schools
  • Affects about 2 million school-age children
  • Up to 25% of peanut/tree nut reactions in schools are first-time reactions
  • Most reactions in schools occur from food in the classroom used for projects or celebrations
managing food allergies in schools1
Managing Food Allergies in Schools
  • Once a reaction begins, there is no way to know how severe it will become
  • Take all food allergy-induced allergic reactions seriously
  • Every school should have a plan for

managing food allergies

the food allergy plan
The Food Allergy Plan
  • The plan to manage a student’s food allergies should take into account:
  • unique needs of the child
  • school environment (size, staff, etc.)
  • goal of equal participation in all school related activities
the food allergy plan1
The Food Allergy Plan

Developing the plan is a team effort involving:

  • school staff
  • child’s family (parents/guardians)
  • child’s physician
  • the child who has allergies, as age appropriate
school s responsibility
School’s Responsibility
  • Create an environment where children,including those with food allergies, will be safe
    • Employ prevention and avoidance
    • Strategies
    • Address teasing
    • Be prepared to handle an allergic


family s responsibility
Family’s Responsibility
  • Provide written medical documentation
  • Work with the school to develop a plan
  • Provide properly labeled medications and replace after use or when expired
  • Keep emergency contact information up-to-date
  • Teach the child age-appropriate self-management skills
stragies to minimize risk of reaction
Stragies to Minimize Risk of Reaction
  • Clean hands before and after eating or handling food
  • Plan for safe parties/celebrations
  • Avoid using foods in classroom art/craft projects or as incentives
  • Prohibit food trading and sharing
  • All students have the legal right to have their health information treated with confidentiality
  • All students deserve respect
      • Never refer to a student as “the peanut kid” or other nicknames
      • Handle things with quiet professionalism
  • Understand parental anxiety
  • Face your own anxiety and then:

Relax and enjoy all of these students!

peanut tree nut restricted educational zones
Peanut / Tree Nut Restricted Educational Zones
  • To help ensure the safety of students with life-threatening peanut and tree-nut allergies, WACS will have Peanut and Tree Nut Restricted Educational Areas in the 2008-2009 School Year. This policy is governed action of the Board of Education.
peanut tree nut restricted area

Peanut/Tree Nut Restricted Area

Designated Allergen Restricted Educational Area

Governed by Board of Education Policy

  • Please contact one of the school nurses if you have concerns or questions about how to handle an allergic reaction
  • Please consult your building principal with education concerns
  • Information for this presentation was obtained from:
    • The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
    • New York Statewide School Health Services Center
    • Thank you for your time and attention!