Food allergy booklet will help 90,000 sufferers

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food allergyA new booklet aimed at New Zealand's 90,000 food allergy sufferers provides information that will help them make better choices when it comes to managing their allergy, says Food Safety Minister Annette King.

Ms King and New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) Executive Director Andrew McKenzie launched the booklet at the NZFSA conference in Auckland today.

Eating Safely When You Have Food Allergies explains the symptoms and diagnosis of food allergies, includes information on what to look for on food labels, and has tips for maintaining a healthy diet, says Ms King. The full-colour 24-page booklet has been written by NZFSA food allergy dietitian Amber Parry-Strong, with input from Allergy New Zealand.

The most common food allergens, responsible for up to 90 percent of all allergic reactions, are the proteins in cows' milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts, says Ms King. Reactions can vary and range from a mild skin rash to life-threatening anaphylactic shock, and the best way to manage a diagnosed food allergy is to avoid foods that contain the allergen.

"The issue is one of increasing concern among consumers as new and novel foods and ingredients become more available. Managing the public perception of allergens is a complicated issue and one that needs to be addressed."

Ms King says NZFSA's contribution in this area is supported by its strong working relationship with Allergy New Zealand , as well as the expertise of Dr Rohan Ameratunga, a renowned New Zealand and international allergen expert, and a member of the NZFSA Academy.

The booklet also complements the work of the Manufactured Food Database (MFD), administered by NZFSA , which provides information on up to 6000 allergen-free foods sold in New Zealand. More information on the MFD is available at http://www.mfd.co.nz