Nearly Half of All People With Food Allergies Develop Them as Adults

While the number of adults with food allergies is relatively low, almost half of them developed their allergies after childhood. In this article, we explain the basics of food allergies and discuss what you should do if you suffer an allergic reaction.

Prevent Food Poisoning in the Workplace with These Simple Tips

When food makes employees sick, it can be a serious detriment to workplace health, safety, and morale. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to mishandle food at work, and a shared kitchen with an unregulated fridge is a breeding ground for foodborne illness.

Fortunately, preventing food poisoning at work doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few simple ways to make sure your next company potluck is as safe as it is fun.

Cleanliness is Key to Avoiding Foodborne Illness in the Workplace

Before your next lunchtime rolls around, post these guidelines in the company kitchen to promote proper sanitation.

Follow Proper Handwashing Procedures

The recommended way to wash your hands is by scrubbing hands with soap under hot running water for 20 seconds and making sure to get the areas between your fingers and around your nails. Proper handwashing before and after handling foods, especially meat or common allergens, decreases the risk of foodborne illness and cross-contamination.

Follow Proper Handwashing Procedure

The recommended way to wash your hands is by scrubbing hands with soap under hot running water for 20 seconds and making sure to get the areas between your fingers and around your nails. Proper handwashing before and after handling foods, especially meat or common allergens, decreases the risk of foodborne illness and cross-contamination.

Cover Any Cuts or Abrasions

Food exposed to blood or bodily fluids is at risk for spreading dangerous infections. Suggest covering cuts or open sores with a bandage or a rubber glove if a wound or abrasion may come into contact with food during preparation, even if it’s your employee’s own meal.

Thoroughly Clean Food Preparation Surfaces and Utensils

It’s not always possible to ensure kitchen tool cleanliness when utensils and spaces are shared by many. Having plenty of dish soap and sanitary cleaning tools available for employees to use can reduce the risk of foodborne illness through sanitation.

Sponges, in particular, quickly become moldy if not properly cared for. For a more germ-resistant option, look for knit plastic scrubbies or a non-foam sponge. Make sure to thoroughly rinse company kitchen cleaning tools, store them in a way that allows them to dry fully, and replace them regularly.

Don’t Neglect Your Employees’ Desks

Between phones, keyboards, and the contents of pockets, desks are covered in bacteria-laden objects. However, this space is often overlooked when it comes to foodborne illness prevention, even though 62% of American professionals eat lunch at their desk every day. Eating lunch while working isn’t always avoidable, but it is possible to do safely. Wipe down surfaces before and after eating, and frequently disinfect phones and keyboards. These are great ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness for employees who eat at their desk.

Avoid Illness by Keeping Food Out of the Danger Zone

The “danger zone” for food storage is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Within this temperature range, bacteria growth accelerates. For some microbes, populations can double in as little as 20 minutes. Bacteria like salmonella and E. coli flourish between 40 and 140 degrees, and they can cause serious illness when ingested. The solution is simple: make sure employees have access to an effective refrigerator and access to a microwave or oven that will reheat their food up to at least 165 degrees.

Take Care of the Catering to Avoid Food Poisoning

A catered event or potluck is a great way to encourage team bonding and bring everyone together around the table. However, when food is left at room temperate for too long (more than two hours), it no longer becomes safe to eat. After the two-hour mark, bacteria growth increases significantly, as does the risk for food poisoning. To avoid illness after a shared meal, keep catered food on warming pans to ensure hot items stay above the 140-degree threshold. After the event, make sure one or two people are tasked with disposing of or properly storing the leftovers.

Clean the Fridge Regularly to Reduce Foodborne Illness

While refrigeration slows bacteria growth, a shared office fridge can become a hotbed for contamination if food isn’t used or disposed of promptly. One spoiled item can affect the food around it and lead to food poisoning if unwittingly consumed. Labeling foods with the owner’s name and the date is an effective way to make sure perishable lunch items don’t get pushed to the back of the fridge to rot. Implement a weekly Friday fridge clean-out, and discard items that pose a risk for spreading bacteria.

Don’t Forget About the Pantry

Expired food might not seem like a big deal — especially if it is sealed and unopened. But canned food poses a risk for botulism, a potentially life-threatening illness. Clearly labeling food with the expiration date and regularly sorting any pantry items can reduce potential exposure to illness-causing bacteria in spoiled food.

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Wollan, M. (2016, February 25) Failure to Lunch. New York Magazine. Retrieved from

Did you know that you can develop food allergies no matter how old you are? Many of us assume that once we reach adulthood, we’re safe from new food allergies. Unfortunately, this isn’t true: studies show that almost half of adults with diagnosed food allergies developed them later in life.

However, many of us with suspected food allergies really have other conditions like food sensitivities. Keep reading to learn more about food allergies, food sensitivities, and the warning signs of an adult-onset allergy.

What’s the Difference Between a Food Allergy and a Sensitivity?

Many people think that lactose intolerance and a milk allergy are the same, but these are actually two distinct conditions. Lactose intolerance is a food sensitivity, while a milk allergy is a type of allergy. Food allergies and sensitivities involve different systems and responses in your body. They also have distinct sets of symptoms and pose different health risks.

Allergies Are an Immune System Response

When you have a food allergy, your immune system mistakenly identifies components in your food as dangerous and attacks them with histamines. Your body may respond with symptoms like hives, itchy skin, vomiting, dizziness, swelling, and difficulty breathing. In the worst cases, sufferers can go into anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Food Sensitivities and Intolerances Begin in Your Digestive System

Sometimes, your digestive system can’t properly break down certain kinds of foods. When you ingest these foods, you may experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and gas. This type of reaction is called a food intolerance or sensitivity.

Unlike a food allergy, food sensitivities are rarely life-threatening, although they can cause plenty of pain and discomfort. You may be able to manage your food intolerance symptoms using over-the-counter enzyme replacements.

Food Allergies Can Develop During Adulthood

Many of us associate food allergies with childhood, but a recent study reports that more than 48% of people with food allergies develop them as adults.  Even more worrisome is the fact that more than 51% of adults with food allergies will at some point experience a severe reaction that requires medical care.

Because food allergies can develop suddenly, you need to take symptoms like facial swelling, hives, and dizziness seriously. This is especially true if those reactions occur when you’re eating foods that commonly trigger allergies such as shellfish, milk, peanuts, and tree nuts. And if you suddenly have difficulty breathing or swallowing, don’t wait — go to the nearest emergency room and get help immediately.

Self-Diagnosing Food Allergies Is Dangerous, Expensive, and Ineffective

Some people who believe they have food allergies decide to adopt restricted diets that eliminate certain foods. By following these diets, people believe they can self-diagnose potential food allergies.

While some of these diets come via recommendation from a medical professional, many people end up on these limited and expensive diets because of information they read online or hear from friends. Unfortunately, many of the “allergies” people diagnose themselves with because of these diets are really intolerances. In fact, studies show that while almost 20% of adults self-report a food allergy, only 10% really have one.

Even if your self-diagnosis is correct, you still run serious health risks if you don’t consult an allergist or immunologist about your allergy. Your immune system will not always respond the same way to a food allergen. While you may have a history of skin rashes and itching after eating a certain food, you might suddenly go into anaphylactic shock when you consume the food on a different occasion. In that case, not having epinephrine close by could have catastrophic results.

By seeing a specialist about known or potential food allergies, you can get expert help and support. Your medical team can teach you how to read food labels, communicate about your allergies in restaurants, and find satisfying alternatives to your food allergens.

Canopy Health’s Alliance Includes Respected Allergy and Immunology Specialists and Clinics

Canopy Health’s robust alliance of Bay Area physicians and hospitals includes some of the most respected allergists and immunologists in the country. If you’re a Canopy Health member, you can choose to receive treatment from any of our doctors, including allergy and immunology specialists within Meritage Medical Network, Hill Physicians, SCCIPA, John Muir Health, and UCSF’s Allergy and Immunology Clinic. To request a referral, talk to your primary care physician about our Alliance Referral Program.

Contact Canopy Health to Learn More About Our Alliance and Our Refreshingly Clear Approach

Canopy Health is revolutionizing Bay Area healthcare by giving our members incredible access to transparent, high-quality care. If you’d like to learn more about our refreshingly clear approach, contact us online or by calling 888-8-CANOPY.


Gupta, R.S., Warren, C.M., & Smith, B.M., et al. (2019, January 4). Prevalence and severity of food allergies among U.S. adults. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(1). Retrieved from