Living with food allergies during a pandemic

Washington-DC

Shortages at grocery stores can spell trouble for people who can't make food substitutions

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A group dedicated to food allergy research and education has tips to help people with allergies navigate through food shortages brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Shortages at grocery stores are forcing Americans to get creative with their meals but those who suffer from food allergies don’t have the same flexibility.

“Food allergy families already have a level of anxiety—it’s never an easy process,” said Lisa Gable, the CEO of the group Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)

Grocery delivery services are popular as people practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus but sometimes those services substitute items—creating risks for some customers. 

But there are ways people can help one another. 

“When people are in the grocery store and they’re making choices and if they don’t, for example, have a dairy allergy we’re hoping that they’ll leave things like those optional soy milks or almond milks,” said Gable. 

People can ask a manger at a store or food bank to hold items that are safe for them to consume, according to FARE. 

An allergic reaction often means a trip to the emergency room but with COVID-19 adding new risks, FARE’s Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Tom Casale on Tuesday issued new recommendations to help avoid an ER visit. 

“Inject epinephrine then call for help from a neighbor, or someone else, where you could be by the front door—unlock it—so if you did have a severe reaction someone else could still activate the emergency medical system,” Casale advised. He recommends talking to your doctor before taking these steps.

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