Food Allergy Prevalence
The number of people affected by food allergies has grown steadily in recent years and, according to more recent statistics, continues to rise. It is estimated that 2-4% of adults and 4-7% of children are affected by food allergies.
What is a food allergy?
The causes of a food allergy are manifold and multifunctional.
In classical food allergy, the immune system shows a misdirected immune response to actually harmless substances (proteins) of a food. Antibodies of immunoglobulin class E (IgE) play a special role here. After primary sensitisation to the allergenic food, these are found on so-called mast cells and basophils. On renewed contact with certain proteins of the allergenic food, signal molecules (histamine and others) are released which trigger the symptoms typical of (food) allergies. These can manifest themselves in the following areas: Skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, cardiovascular system.
Due to the lack of causal treatment strategies, the only recommended and routinely used "therapy" at present is the strict waiting (avoidance) of the allergenic food. This is important, but difficult, because even the smallest amounts can trigger allergic reactions.
At the European level, the increasing problem of food allergies has been responded to by issuing a regulation in the form of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 according to which allergenic substances (food allergens) used as ingredients must be declared without exception on the label of a foodstuff.