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By Karen Alexander, Oncology Wellness Specialist


Using Technology to Manage your Food Allergies

Food allergies are a growing concern when it comes to food safety and public health. According to the FDA, millions of Americans have food allergic reactions annually. Although most food allergies cause relatively mild symptoms, severe reactions can be life-threatening. People can develop allergies to almost any food, and 90 percent of allergic reactions in America are caused by food. Strict avoidance of the food allergen is the only way to prevent a reaction.

Below are the top 8 most common foods that trigger allergic reactions:

Milk (mostly in children)
Tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans)
Wheat and other grains with gluten, including barley, rye, and oats
Fish (mostly in adults)
Shellfish (mostly in adults)

To help people manage food allergies, the FDA enforces the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. The Act applies to the labeling of foods regulated by the FDA, which includes all foods except poultry, most meats, specific egg products, and most alcoholic beverages. This is very helpful for people who eat at home, but it doesn’t necessarily work for people who eat out since they don’t have access to the labels of all the ingredients in their foods. 

The good news is that we live in the era of technology. Mobile apps are computer programs designed to run on a mobile device such as a smart phone, tablet or watch. Today, you can find an app for almost anything like entertainment, shopping, organization and much more. Fortunately, creative minds have developed apps for people with food allergies and other types of special diets.

Apps for eating out following a gluten-free diet

Find Me Gluten-Free
This app is a gluten-free restaurant finder. It includes links to chain restaurant’s websites and their gluten-free menus. It has a section for user reviews where people share useful information and tips.
Price: Free.

iEatOut Gluten & Allergy Free
This app includes information from restaurants near you or anywhere around the world without having to search for gluten-free menus or allergy charts. Browse menu choices, ingredients, sauces, food preparation and cross-contamination considerations to avoid any combination of food allergens.
Price: $4.99

Gluten-free Restaurant Items
This app identifies restaurants in your area with gluten-free menu options. The recommendations in the app come directly from others with Celiac disease, so you know they’re reliable.
Price: $1.99

This app provides information for thousands of restaurants across the United States. Nima’s users rate restaurants and submit helpful reviews.
Price: Free.

Gluten-Free Restaurant Cards
This app has gluten-free restaurant cards in many languages to use when you travel and dine out internationally. The cards explain what foods you can eat and what to avoid when following a gluten-free diet.
Price: Free.

Other apps for special diets

Allergy Eats
This app provides information about allergy-friendly restaurants. It includes comments, ratings, and recommendations from other users with food allergies for over 850,000 restaurants in the United States.  Restaurants are organized by city, zip code, or your current GPS location.
Price: Free.

Have a nice weekend!

Karen Alexander, BSND, MSCN.

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