I was reading an old article online about food allergy when I stumbled upon this question, which I personally believe is an excellent thing to ask. It started a string of other inquiries in my mind like, is there such thing as deadliest food allergy or should there be levels when it comes to the most fatalities that a certain food allergy brings? And this is what I came up.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to replace any medical findings or professional opinions.
It is one of the most common food allergies in the US, especially for children. Like other food allergies, it is dangerous due to anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction that is immediate and deadly. Between the year 1997 and 2008, the number of kids with peanut allergy in the US tripled and there’s still no concrete reason as to why. This is according to the results of a nationwide survey published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2010.
Peanuts are not really nuts like tree nuts but legumes. They don’t grow on trees like almonds or wall nuts but underground, enclosed in a pod. It’s related to soy, peas, and other beans and some theories suggest that this may be the reason why peanut allergy is on the rise, because of possible similar protein makeup of these popular foods in the US.
The Deadliest Food Allergy
All food allergies are deadly but is there one that really stands out? Most of us know that food allergy is fatal period, and believe it or not, it doesn’t matter how many allergens you got exposed to, anaphylaxis may occur in an instant.
An estimate was released and it shows that somewhere around 150 to 200 people in the US die every year due to food allergy and 50-60% of that fatality are due to peanut allergy. This estimate may be where peanut allergy got its reputation of being the deadliest. But come to think of it, there are hundreds of fatalities because it’s a lot harder to stay away from peanuts as compared to the rest of the top 8 (Soy, tree nuts, milk, seafood, fish, and eggs) but does that qualify peanut allergy as the deadliest? Again, these numbers are estimates and we don’t have the exact numbers of fatalities coming from the other top 7 allergens.
Another thing to take into consideration is that peanuts is one of the most common ingredients that we can find almost on any food like chocolate candy bars, cakes, bread, spreads, salads, and many more, even in unlikely foods like soup, salad dressings, or breakfast cereals making it really hard to stay away from and more and more people are exposed to it, knowingly or unknowingly.
Dangers in Rankings
The main problem of having rankings, especially when it comes to how deadly a certain food allergy is, is an oversaturation of the condition and over the popularity of that particular food allergy. Let’s admit that we tend to focus on which is popular that may cause a tendency of taking other food allergies for granted. I’m not saying that peanut allergy popularity is bad, if more people have it, then it is only right that we focus on finding its cure but isn’t it better if we have the cure for all the food allergies that are rising.
Problem foods like peanuts trigger our immune system by its protein and this goes with the rest of the food allergens. Having rankings on which is the deadliest may not help the current food allergy situation but only creates discrimination and labels and that is more dangerous, especially to those who don’t have food allergies or any knowledge on how deadly having a food allergy is.
Can you think of other reasons why having rankings in food allergy is unnecessary and dangerous or do you think otherwise? Comment your answers and opinions below!