Did you know that boys appear to develop food allergies more than girls? According to recent data from the Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), nearly 8% of US children are affected by a food allergy. The prevalence of children with a food allergy continues to increase each year. It was previously reported that approximately 3 million children suffer from food allergies. It is now estimated that 5.9 million children have a food allergy with 39% having a history of severe reaction, and 30% having multiple food allergies. In addition, eight foods account for almost 90% of all food allergy reactions. While some of food allergies such as milk, eggs, and wheat may be outgrown by the age of five, others such as peanuts and tree nut will be life-long.
The Eight Most Common Food Allergies
Signs and Symptoms of a Food Allergy
Swelling of the Lips, Eyes, or Face
The School Food Service (SFS) Department serves as a resource for parents across Palm Beach County by providing them with valuable information regarding the ingredients of every food offered through the Child Nutrition Programs. Because of this, many students with documented food allergies or intolerances are able to enjoy meals with their friends during school.
During the 2011-2012 school year, the department’s Nutrition Educator, Chantal Gellermann, created a webpage on the SFS Department website dedicated to Special Dietary Needs. This webpage provides parents with a variety of great information such:
- default_titleThe “Carbohydrate and Fiber List” for each recipe utilized by Type 1 Diabetics
- default_title“Menu Items Containing Pork” for those with religious preferences
- default_title“Vegetarian Entrées” for those with dietary preferences
- default_title“Allergen Information” for each recipe offered via the school cafeteria
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On August 3, 2011, The School District of Palm Beach County adopted School Board Policy 5.324 “Students with Life Threatening Health Conditions”. This policy covers a broad spectrum of life threatening conditions such as severe allergies and anaphylactic shock, severe asthma, seizures, diabetes, and other chronic/life threatening health conditions. In addition to the policy, the SFS Department created Diabetic and Food Allergy Action Plans which outline the support and responsibilities that the department provides to assist schools in case of an emergency.
The SFS Department continues to require all vendors and manufacturers to complete a Food Allergy Worksheet as part of the competitive bidding process. This worksheet, along with the product specification sheet of each food item procured by the SFS Department, is kept in the administrative office. Parents who have children with food allergies are encouraged to attend a meeting at the beginning of the school year to review the ingredients of food items.
The SFS Department will be revising the Food Allergy Worksheet, which is completed by each vendor or manufacturer, to also include identifying artificial coloring such as red, blue, and yellow dyes. Per bid language, the SFS Department reserves the right to not purchase food items with these ingredients.