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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
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This September, as part of 2008 National Food Safety Education Month, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) will partner with the National Restaurant Association to promote food safety education and training.
This year’s theme, “Take Action to Prevent an Allergic Reaction” focuses on raising awareness of food allergies and preventing food allergic reactions. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylactic Network (FAAN), one in 25 people are allergic to some type of food allergen.
“If you have a food allergy, even a small amount of that food can make you sick,” said Commissioner Heather Howard. “Currently, the only way to treat food allergies is avoiding the foods that trigger reactions, so consumers should take precautionary steps, especially when eating out.”
The following tips are useful for adults with food allergies or parents who have children with food allergies:
· In restaurants, ask before you order. Communicate with restaurant staff to determine exactly what ingredients are in a food item. Ask for suggestions of menu items that do not include the food allergen. You may also inquire if the kitchen can prepare a menu item for you that does not contain the food allergen.
· Read all food labels carefully. The eight major food allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, soy, wheat and eggs) are required by law to appear on packaged food labels. If you’re not sure, contact the manufacturer.
· If you or your child experiences a food allergic reaction, seek medical help immediately. Severe reactions can happen in minutes, so a quick response is critical!
As part of this month-long campaign, the NJDHSS will distribute and promote “Food Allergies; It’s a Matter of Life or Death,” a poster available in English and Spanish that educates and reminds restaurant staff of their role in preventing food allergic reactions. The poster was developed in partnership with the New Jersey Restaurant Association, Rutgers University Food Policy Institute, and Rutgers University Department of Nutritional Sciences. Posters are available from NJDHSS, or on-line at: www.foodallergy.rutgers.edu/images/posters/Restaurant.pdf.
Additionally, NJDHSS will:
· Partner with the NJ Department of Agriculture School Lunch program to remind food workers about preventing food allergic reactions
· Encourage participation in a local fundraising event, “Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward a Cure!” This event is scheduled for Sept.7 at 10:00 AM in Long Branch and October 19 at 1:00 PM in Ridgewood. For more information or to register go to: www.foodallergywalk.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Home
· Distribute food allergy educational materials at various festivals throughout September
· Promote educational outreach materials that target various food associations and the food industry
You can also contact your local health departments to find out more about what food allergy activities they may be planning for National Food Safety Education Month.
For additional information on NJDHSS activities during National Food Safety Education Month, or for more information about food allergens and labeling, contact NJDHSS Food and Drug Safety Program at (609)588-3123, or visit the program’s web site at: nj.gov/health/eoh/foodweb/.
Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360