12. Always be prepared for an allergic reaction
No matter how careful you are, an allergic reaction can still happen. No matter how careful the manufacturers of your food are, trace amounts of allergens can still accidentally get into food. Usually when this happens, it's due to the ingredients they use or simply due to the fact that people run the machines that make many food products. Even well-trained employees at huge brand name companies can accidentally cause a problem by eating breakfast that includes one of the Top 8 Allergens, getting some on their clothes and then going to work in those clothes.

The good news is that food manufacturers are better than they've ever been before at keeping food-allergic consumers safe and accurately-informed. There are tests called ELISA's that food companies can use to check for the presence of traces of food allergens. More and more food companies are using these tests as part of a formal allergen control plan, and Egg-Free Epicurean uses them regularly.

However, it's important for food-allergic consumers to be aware that even though these tests are very sensitive, all tests have limitations. There is no test that can guarantee a food manufacturer, or a food-allergic consumer, of a level of zero (0 parts per million or “ppm”) for an allergen. We're not trying to scare you. We're sharing this with you, because it's important in keeping yourself or your child safe.

Our point is that in spite of best efforts and all of the highly sensitive testing tools that are available to food manufacturers, accidents can and do happen. As parents of food allergic children, we should go to extreme lengths to keep them safe and to teach them how to keep themselves safe. But there are no certainties. You must always be prepared for the worst case scenario at all times. Ask your doctor to help you come up with a plan for how you will handle an allergic reaction, and try your best to never be without your emergency medicine and your fully-charged
cell phone.

Please exhaust every resource you have, including this checklist, our Food Allergy Resource Links , other parents of food allergic children and your allergist to educate yourself. Understand the risks and make rules for your family about how to best avoid your food allergens. Then live as normal a life as you can, knowing you're doing everything possible to protect your child. And remember …

Don't panic. Educate yourself and your child, and always be prepared.


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