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October 30, 2013
ATLANTAThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released voluntary guidelines for food allergies in schools on Oct. 30, in order to improve food safety among the growing number of children suffering from food allergens.
The Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Centers were developed in consultation with the U.S. Department of Education as part of the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act's goal to improve food safety. The guidelines are designed to help staff in schools and early care and education (ECE) programs deal with allergic reactions in an environment where allergens can be present.
These guidelines provide practical information and planning steps for parents, district administrators, school administrators and staff, and ECE program administrators and staff to develop or strengthen plans for food allergy management and prevention.
The guidelines include recommendations for five priority areas to address:
Ensure the daily management of food allergies in individual children.
Prepare for food allergy emergencies.
Provide professional development on food allergies for staff members.
Educate children and family members about food allergies.
Create and maintain a healthy and safe educational environment.
The prevalence of food allergies increased in children under age 18 years from 3.4% in 1997 to 5.1% in 2011, according the CDC. In fact, food allergy rates among Americans are highest (4.2%) for children aged 1 to 5 years old.
The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics found that eight foods account for 90% of children's allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.
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