Accommodating Employees with Food Allergy
A food allergy occurs when a person’s immune system decides that a particular food is harmful and so creates specific antibodies to it. The next time the individual is exposed to that food, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals to protect the body. These chemicals trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system. Symptoms range from a tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and the throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness to death. Symptoms typically appear within minutes to two hours after the person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic.
Although a person can be allergic to any food, there are eight foods that account for most of all food allergy reactions. These are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Currently, there are no medications that cure food allergies. Strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to avoid a reaction.
People with food allergies may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with arthritis will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
I wish people understood this one fact... ingredients found in prepared food matters. Having allergies suck but what makes it worst is having selfish coworkers. Also not everyone eats seafood... Yikes... I can't stand shellfish.
As a teacher, food allergies are a serious issue. Most schools are a nut free zone. Things are certainly different now then when I grew up, and it seems to me that most people are more aware and intentional about food. It is definitely something that needs to be considered but it can sometimes be fun to find new ways of using food and creating new recipes that are friendly to those with allergies.