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Allergen Free

The term ‘allergen free’ is a common term used in the food allergy community. What does this term mean and what is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?

A food allergy is an over-reaction of the body’s immune system to a particular protein found in a specific food or food group. A person’s immune response can vary from mild to severe. A severe reaction, known as “anaphylaxis,” can be life-threatening, and even cause death. The only way to avoid an allergic reaction is by avoiding the food completely.

The top 10 priority allergens in Canada are:
  • Milk
  • Wheat
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish
  • Seasame
  • Mustard
  • Sulfites
Health Canada requires that if a food product contains any one of the top ten allergens, that it be clearly labelled. Ensure that you read packages carefully, and avoid any product that includes warnings that the product “may contain” or “may contain traces of” any of the allergens you are allergic to.

A food intolerance is an over-reaction to a food, but unlike a food allergy, it does not trigger an immune response in the body.  It is usually caused by the body’s inability to break down a component of food, such as a carbohydrate/sugar, e.g. lactose intolerance. Symptoms of food intolerance may include, bloating, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Click here to learn more.

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