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Creating a safe kitchen for children with food allergies

Tips and resources for parents of children with food allergies to help keep them safe at home

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So often for families, the kitchen is the heart of the home—a place not only for cooking and eating but for homework and games, conversation and counsel. While the kitchen is an important place for all, it is even more important for those living with food allergies.

Food is one of the most common triggers of severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, the potentially life-threatening response to a perceived invader. While any kind of food may trigger an allergic reaction, there are some common culprits: peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios and pecans), shellfish, dairy, soy, wheat and eggs, mustard, sesame seeds and fish, among others.

Of the more than 3 million Canadians who live with food allergies, almost half a million are children. Some allergies may disappear as a child grows up; others, like peanuts and shellfish, may last a lifetime – and may get worse with each repeated exposure to the allergen. But reactions can be unpredictable. In fact, roughly one in five people who have died from an allergic reaction to a food or insect bite had never previously had a severe reaction.

There is no cure for food allergies so avoiding allergens to prevent reactions is the only defence. Learning how to do that effectively is the best protection you can offer.

Some important kitchen safety tips from EpiPen Canada and Food Allergy Canada, include:

  • When buying packaged foods, check labels carefully– even if you have purchased the item before and feel it was “safe.”
  • Don’t buy any packaged food that does not have an ingredient list; steer clear of bulk bins as well.
  • Double-check the label once you get home and are putting food away; triple-check the label before serving. You can’t be too careful.
  • Learn about other places where a food allergen may be found, such as pet food.
  • Always wash hands before and after preparing food to help avoid cross-contamination. A severe food allergy can be triggered by touching objects, surfaces or people who have been in contact with the allergen or by touching food that has been near the allergen. Cross-contamination may also occur during the manufacturing process. For absolute certainty about a packaged food, contact the manufacturer directly.
  • Even with all the precautions, allergy triggers are nearly impossible to avoid 100 percent of the time. Know the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, and have an emergency plan in place. Make sure family members and anyone else in close contact with someone with food allergies understands the safety rules as well as what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Always have at least one EpiPen® Auto-Injector and/or EpiPenJr® on hand in the event of a severe allergic reaction. The disposable pre-filled automatic injection device administers epinephrine, which can help decrease the effects of a severe allergic reaction.

As thousands of Canadian parents know, living with a child who has a food allergy or allergies can feel overwhelming and challenging at first. But it does get easier with knowledge and time, and before too long becomes a normal part of daily life.

EpiPen® has been a trusted leader in the food allergy realm for over 25 years.

To order an EpiPen® Training Kit or for more information about food allergies as well as tips, tools and resources for Canadians living with food allergies, please go to EpiPen.ca.

EpiPen auto-injectors are indicated for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. This product does not replace seeing a doctor or going to the hospital.

This product may not be right for you. Please read and follow the label.

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EpiPen®, EpiPen Jr® are registered trademarks of Mylan, Inc. licensed exclusively to its wholly-owned affiliate, Mylan Specialty, L.P.; sub-licensee, Pfizer Canada ULC, Kirkland, Quebec H9J 2M5.

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