Merriam-Webster defines allergy as “a medical condition that causes someone to become sick after eating, touching, or breathing something that is harmless to most people.”
According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), as many as 15 million people have food allergies. 9 million or 4% of adults suffer from food related allergies and 6 million or 8% of all children have them.
Eight foods account for 90% of allergies. These include: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.
There is no known cure for food allergies. Some people become sensitive to certain foods as an adult while others find that they have “grown out” of ones they suffered from as a child.
There are many theories about why food allergies are so prevalent now. Some think that there have been food allergies throughout history but that advances in medical care have allowed people to survive reactions where they may not have had survived before. Other believe that processed food is to blame. Still many other people believe that our environment has attributed to the rise in these allergies.
It seems like everyone either has allergies themselves or knows people with them. It is useless to postulize the origin of allergic reactions to food. What seems important is to be sensitive to those who struggle with food allergies and to be accommodating and sympathetic to special requests or concerns.