Food Allergen Awareness Month Is Here!

May is Food Allergen Awareness month.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in thirteen children and one in twenty-five adults have food allergies.  This means that  the possibility of a customer in a food service facility having a food allergy is great.  In some cases, just a small amount of an allergen can cause serious harm—and in some cases death–to persons that are allergic.

Georgia’s Rules and Regulations for Food Service require that the person in charge of food service facilities train their staff in regard to allergen awareness based on their respective job duties.  The CDC’s  3 Resources About Food Allergies provides information to assist with your allergen training such as this poster entitled “Food Allergies: What you need to know” .

If additional assistance is needed in this area, please contact your local health authority.


We now turn our attention to the importance of food allergen awareness during this final week of National Food Safety Education Month.  Although some reactions to allergens in food are mild, many are severe and can be life-threatening.  Whether you are a consumer or worker in a food service establishment, please check out the facts, posters, and other tools provided by to assist you with food allergen awareness and response.

Direct link:

Required Training in Food Allergen Awareness

Contributed by Terry Fuller, CDC Associate

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), each year, millions of Americans have allergic reactions to food. Some food allergies can cause severe reactions, which in some circumstances, may result in death. Avoidance of the food and early recognition of the signs and symptoms if the food is accidently eaten are ways to prevent serious health consequences.

According to Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Rule 511-6-1-.03(2)(l), it is the responsibility of the Person in Charge (PIC) to ensure that their employees are properly trained in food safety, including food allergy awareness, as it relates to their assigned duties.  Please include the following information in your training.

The eight major food allergens:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts which include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts.
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Crustacean shellfish which include crab, lobster, and shrimp

Employees should know where to find their restaurant’s ingredient list and allergy information that identifies the eight most common food allergens for their menu items and how to respond to customer inquiries.

According to the FDA, cross-contact occurs “when residue or trace amount of an allergenic food becomes incorporated into another food not intended to contain it.”  These transferred amounts usually cannot be seen. One example is using the same fryer for frying shrimp and then using it later for frying chicken. The fried chicken could potentially make a person sick that has an allergy to shrimp.

The most common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction are wheezing; coughing; trouble breathing; hives; fainting; and swelling of the throat, face, lips, or tongue.  A severe reaction to a food allergen may result in anaphylaxis, which may lead to death.  Workers should be on the lookout for these signs and symptoms and know how to respond to such an incident.

More information to assist you is available on the FDA’s website: