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:
- Tree nuts which include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts.
- 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: