What is anaphylaxis?

A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to a food, which is normally harmless for most people. While a mild food allergy may cause skin irritation on the face and arms, a more marked reaction may cause swelling of lips, face, eyes, hives or welts, abdominal pain or vomiting.

 What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe and sudden allergic reaction that occurs when an allergic person is exposed to an allergen such as a food or an insect sting. Reactions usually begin within minutes of exposure and can progress rapidly. Anaphylaxis is potentially life threatening and always requires an emergency response.

 What are the most common foods that can cause anaphylaxis?

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans etc)
  • Sesame
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy

Life threatening reactions are most often a result of eating a particular food, even in trace amounts. Skin contact with the trigger food might cause hives or swelling, while smelling the trigger food is a highly unlikely to cause anaphylaxis. Food labelling rules in Australia state that the most common allergens (crustaceans, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, soybeans, tree nuts, sesame seeds and their products, gluten and its products, plus sulphite preservatives) must be declared on packaging or in connection with the display. These allergens are not always easy to find on labels. Other words may also refer to the allergen e.g. a milk product may be referred to as casein. Anaphylaxis Australia, in association with the NSW Food Authority and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), has produced some allergen ingredient cards that list ingredients you should avoid if you are allergic to milk, peanut, egg, fish, tree nut, sesame, soy or shellfish.