Almost any food can cause an allergy, though the foods most commonly associated with an allergic reaction are those frequently consumed by a population. For example, an allergy to rice is common in Southeast Asia, while fish allergy is a problem in the Scandinavian countries, where fish is frequently consumed (even at breakfast). Age is also a factor influencing the types of foods to which a person might be allergic. In the United States, common foods to which adults are allergic include eggs, shrimp, lobster, peanuts, other nuts, and fish. U.S. children who have food allergies find their problems are most frequently linked to milk, soy, eggs, and peanuts. Infants may be allergic to cow's milk or soy formulas. Some food allergies may be outgrown, but allergies to peanuts, shrimp, and fish tend to last throughout life. In addition, some individuals are only allergic to one food, whereas some are allergic to several foods.
An allergic reaction can be triggered by a very small amount of a food. Persons with food allergies need to read food labels carefully and ask restaurant workers about food ingredients, and the food industry needs to ensure that processed foods are appropriately prepared so that people are not exposed to food allergens unknowingly. This may happen when improperly cleaned food equipment is used to prepare multiple types of food.
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