Peanut allergy sufferers should take a moment to read ingredient lists before digging into Halloween candy, says Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of allergy at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Some of the goodies could contain peanuts, peanut byproducts or be made in areas with other peanut-containing foods.
"The allergy community continues to work with the Food and Drug Administration to improve product labeling," Dr. Gruchalla says. "However, while labeling is getting better, peanut allergen-contamination of nonpeanut containing foods is still a possibility."
Peanut or tree nut allergies affect approximately 3 million Americans - roughly 8 percent of children aged 6 and under and 1 percent to 2 percent of adults - and cause the most severe food-induced allergic reactions, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Approximately 100 Americans, usually children, die annually from food-induced allergic reaction, NIAID officials report.
Dr. Gruchalla recommends that peanut-sensitive holiday revelers avoid homemade snacks and stick to hard candy and well-known treats that don't list peanut products among the ingredients. Also, do some research before eating off-brand foods or fun-size candy without an ingredient list. Contact the manufacturing company or log on to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Web site at www.foodallergy.org for more peanut information.
Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford