Blog posts of '2019' 'April'

Tips to Protect Against Food Allergies in the Classroom

As August turns into September every school-aged child begins to think, and probably worry about, if their friends will still be friends, if the course material will be too challenging, if their teachers will be nice, or if they’ll make that sports team they’ve been planning on trying out for.

However, for kids with food allergies, those concerns only add to the other concerns they’re having. They’re wondering if everyone in their class knows not to bring peanut products, if the lunchroom staff knows they can’t have eggs or gluten, or if the teachers know that rewarding with food treats can be life threatening.

According to the Food Allergy Research and Education website, more than 15% of school-aged children with food allergies have had an allergic reaction at school. These reactions can range anywhere from mild to fatal. It’s a serious concern and awareness is essential.

So, how do we help those kids with food allergies? We have to make teachers, parents, and other students aware of the dangers and how they can help be part of a solution.

Here are some tips to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction in the classroom.

Classrooms Can Be Food-Free

It might be the easiest route to just keep all food out of the classroom. That way, no one has to worry or think about what’s allowed in and what’s restricted.

Restrict Identified Allergens from Classrooms

If snacks aren’t taken out of the classrooms completely, it needs to be well-known by all students, teachers, and parents which foods are dangerous allergens. Those foods must be restricted from snacks, parties, or other activities.

Find Fun and Inclusive Ways to Celebrate

It’s a wonderful gesture to bring treats and snacks into the classroom for parties and holidays, but that gesture can marginalize or be dangerous to some kids. Instead, try extra recess or celebrate with games and free-time.

Educate Your Kids

Inclusion and acceptance can go a long way in helping any child adapt. If everyone knows that there are just some foods that are dangerous for their classmates, understanding and recognition can happen.

Seek Out Resources

In addition to explaining to kids about food allergies, find activities, resources, videos, or testimonials to share with children in, and out of the classroom. If the ideas are delivered in a fun and inclusive manner, children are more likely to respond to that information.

All-in-all, excluding foods from the classroom as opposed to excluding children from participating in activities is the best way to handle food allergies at school. Kids with food allergies will have their own emergency plans and their parents will have discussed with staff and teachers what to do in the event of a reaction. In order to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and enjoy school, allergen awareness is critical. Remember, safety isn’t a privilege; it’s a fundamental right to every child in every classroom.

Health Inspection Ratings Now on Yelp!

The CDC estimates that each year, 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Food safety is more important than ever and is becoming a hot topic issue. With states continuing to reform and pass laws that create stricter food safety requirements, it’s no surprise that Yelp is now publishing health inspection ratings along with reviews.

The update is part of the company’s Local Inspector Value Entry Specification, or LIVES, program. The health inspection score will update on a business’s page to reflect the most current information regarding hygiene.

The emphasis on food safety and the dedication to unifying the restaurant industry is something that will only continue to gain attention. Yelp is hoping that publishing health inspection scores will have a positive impact on consumers and the industry itself. Apparently, the first few major cities in which Yelp included the scores along with the reviews have seen a decrease in hospitalizations from foodborne illness. In addition, posting hygiene scores on Yelp has led to a 12 percent decrease in purchase intentions for restaurants with low scores relative to those with higher scores.

The push for food safety highlights the importance of hygiene, food rotation, and allergy awareness. Consumers can already locate health code ratings through other avenues with some digging, but mobile devices make it easier for customers to rely on reviews for restaurant suggestions. Adding health scores will provide consumers with more information for that selection process.

Next time you’re browsing for lunch options, don’t take the chance that food poisoning and ruin your day; just check the health inspection ratings on Yelp!

All About Gluten: Wheat Allergy vs Celiac Disease

Wheat allergies are sometimes mistaken for celiac disease, but these are actually very different conditions, in both the cause as well as the reaction and symptoms.

Learn more about the celiac disease and wheat allergies, and their differences.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is not an allergy to gluten, which are proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye that help foods retain their shape. It’s an immune reaction where gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestine, damaging its lining over time and preventing the absorption of nutrients.

The most common symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Loss
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation

There are other symptoms related to the inability to absorb nutrients.

There is no cure, but following a strict gluten-free diet helps manage the symptoms and prevents further damage to the small intestine.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat is one of the 8 most common allergens. If someone has a wheat allergy, their immune system overreacts and creates antibodies to wheat protein.

Someone with a wheat allergy is allergic to proteins in wheat, but not necessarily to gluten.

An allergic reaction can range from mild to severe or even life-threatening. Symptoms of an allergic reaction develop within a few minutes or hours after consuming wheat. These symptoms include:

  • Flushing and redness
  • Hives
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Anaphylactic shock

Someone with a wheat allergy should avoid eating wheat and watch out for hidden allergens.

Key Differences

Although wheat allergy and celiac disease may seem similar upon first glance, there are a number of key distinctions.

A wheat allergy is not specifically a gluten allergy

Celiac disease is only to gluten. A wheat allergy can be a reaction to a number of different proteins in wheat, not necessarily gluten.

Different immune system responses

Both celiac disease and a wheat allergy trigger an abnormal immune system response, but they trigger different immune responses. Specifically, celiac disease triggers an immune response in the small intestine.

Time before symptoms show

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can occur within minutes of consuming wheat.

Celiac disease slowly damages the small intestine’s lining over time, so while digestive symptoms may show up sooner, symptoms of malabsorption due to damage to the small intestine will take a while to appear.

You can’t outgrow celiac disease

Wheat allergies are common in childhood, and many children outgrow their wheat allergies. People with celiac disease cannot outgrow it.

Want to learn more about food allergies and how to prevent allergic reactions? Take a look at our Allergen Awareness training.

Top 4 Tips for Dining Out Safely

Trying out a new restaurant can be exciting.

However, if you are unfamiliar with the restaurant, you won’t know how good their personal hygiene, cleanliness, and other food safety standards are, putting you at a higher risk for contracting a foodborne illness or having an allergic reaction to a dish. That’s why it is so important to do your research beforehand and know what to look out for while you’re there.

Here are a few tips to help you properly vet a new restaurant before giving it a try to keep you safe.

1. Proof of Certification

There are a couple things that we suggest that you do before you even arrive at a restaurant, but our number one tip would be to look for certificates set out to show that staff is food safety trained.

They may also have something else displayed that they are food safety trained, such as a food safety training badge.

You can also ask about the cooks and servers about their food safe certifications.

2. Look at Reviews - Trust people's feedback

This may require only a quick Google search. A bad report is going to be the first thing that a search brings up, but keep in mind the amount of time that has passed since that incident.

Consider the more recent reviews. If a restaurant has survived from a previous failure and the reviews suggest that it has cleaned itself up accordingly, you may use your discretion. You can always excuse yourself if you make a visit and it does not appear as the reviews had suggested.

Sites like Yelp list the most current health inspection ratings of restaurants along with the reviews, so you can see how your local health department has rated the health and safety of local restaurants to decrease your risk of contracting a foodborne illness.

3. Look for Red Flags

You should consider what the practices are for the prep work—what is done behind closed doors. If the staff appears orderly, and prepared, you can relax. Red flags are obvious—look out for things like handling food without gloves, preparing food on unclean surfaces, and not washing the hands when leaving the restroom.

4. Do they take food allergies seriously?

If you have food allergies, let them know of what your allergies are, whether it is gluten, peanuts, or dairy, and ask what sort of alternative they have. If they seem clueless about the question, start looking for another restaurant.