Allergic Food Reactions

Atlanta, Georgia Food Allergy Lawyers

Every year, thousands of Americans suffer food allergy anaphylaxis due to an undisclosed allergen, misleading product label, or the negligent service of a food or ingredient to which they are allergic. In these situations, consumers may have legal recourse against the food company, restaurant or other food service provider whose negligence caused their consumption of or exposure to a known food allergen. Accordingly, victims of food allergy reactions should consult with a qualified food safety lawyer.

Food safety litigation is a primary focus area for the Atlanta trial attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC. They have experience representing consumers when a food allergy leads to an allergic reaction and resulting anaphylactic shock, injury or death. The food safety attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC are qualified to pursue personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against any negligent restaurant or food company responsible for a consumer’s allergic food reaction. They also frequently handle cases involving food poisoning and foodborne illness. The law firm’s offices are located in Atlanta, but its attorneys are available to represent consumers who have suffered food poisoning or food allergy anaphylaxis anywhere in Georgia and the neighboring states of Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Taking Legal Action Against Negligent Restaurants and Food Companies
That Cause Anaphylactic Food Allergy Reactions

The eight most common food allergens are milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios or macadamia nuts). According to the CDC, these foods account for approximately 90% of all food-allergic reactions which occur in this county. Food manufacturers, catering companies, restaurants, and other food service providers should be fully aware that many consumers are allergic to one or more of these eight foods. Therefore, these entities can and should be held liable when they fail to properly disclose or warn about these ingredients, mislabel their food products, or negligently serve one of these eight common food allergens to someone who is known to be allergic to that food. The Atlanta trial attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC have experience with the pursuit of civil claims against individuals or companies whose negligence leads to a consumer’s food allergy anaphylaxis.

Food Allergies Pose a Significant and Growing Public Health Concern

Food allergies are a major public health concern, especially among children. Estimates of the proportion of people with food allergies varies (between 2-10% of the U.S. population), but everyone agrees they are more common among children than adults. In a report released in 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimated that 2% of adult Americans and nearly 4% of children under the age of 18 have an allergy to one or more foods. Thus, at least 3 million children and a larger number of adults face the always present risk of an allergic food reaction. Some researchers believe the CDC has underestimated the prevalence of food allergies among those aged 18 and under. According to a 2011 study published in Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the proportion of children with food allergies was found to be 8% (or 6 million), nearly double the figure given by the CDC. Of particular note, this report revealed that nearly 40% of the children studied had reportedly suffered a severe allergic food reaction.

Even more concerning, the number of people with food allergies appears to be growing. In its 2008 report, the CDC stated, “There are indications that the prevalence of food allergy may be increasing in the United States and other countries.” In particular, the CDC reported that among the population younger than 18, the prevalence of food allergies had increased 18% between 1997 and 2007. The CDC specifically noted that “During the 10 year period 1997 to 2006, food allergy rates increased significantly among both preschool aged and older children.”

Food allergies can have serious health consequences. Though the adverse response to a food allergen is usually mild, food allergies can lead to severe allergic reaction and life-threatening anaphylaxis. In the most severe cases, anaphylactic shock can cause hypoxic brain injury or death. According to the CDC, food allergies cause 30,000 cases of anaphylaxis requiring emergency medical treatment, 2000 hospitalizations, and 150 deaths in this country each year.

Understanding What a Food Allergy Is and How It Can Cause an Allergic Reaction

A food allergy exists when a person’s immune system develops an abnormal immunity response to the type of protein found in a particular food. For reasons not fully understood, some people’s immune system will treat certain food proteins as harmful pathogens thereby triggering an immune system response that is abnormal. Any substance which triggers such an abnormal reaction is called an “allergen.” Development of a food allergy first begins with a “sensitization” phase when the allergen first triggers an adverse immune response to a particular protein. This usually produces no symptoms but once the process of sensitization has occurred, the likelihood and potential severity of a symptomatic allergic reaction increases with each subsequent exposure to the allergen. Allergy to any specific food can develop at any age, although most food allergies arise during childhood. There is no cure for food allergies and their development cannot be prevented. However, children often “outgrow” a food allergy (especially allergies to milk, eggs and soy) and later become able to safely consume a previous food allergen. Unfortunately, there is the risk that a childhood food allergy may reoccur many years later.

Genetics appear to play a significant role in the development of food allergies. Children of a parent who has a food allergy are more likely to also have a food allergy. The risk is even greater if both parents have a history of food allergies. Age is also a significant risk factor. Children, especially those younger than 5, are much more likely to have a food allergy than adults. Persons who already have a food allergy or who have a history of other allergies such as asthma, hives, atopic dermatitis, or hay fever are at increased risk of developing a food allergy. Likewise, a family history of these conditions increases the likelihood a person will have one or more food allergies. Other risk factors include elevated allergen-specific serum immunoglobulin levels. Some experts also believe that smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk of the baby developing one or more food allergies.

An allergic reaction occurs when someone’s immune system “overreacts” to the presence of a food allergen and produces Immunoglobulin E (Ig E) antibodies. When these antibodies travel to mast cells, histamine and other chemicals are released which produce the body’s allergic reaction.

The Most Common Food Allergies

People can develop an allergy to almost any food, but most food allergies involve one of the following eight allergens:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans and soy products
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (i.e., almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, etc.)
  • Fish (i.e., salmon, tuna, halibut, flounder, etc.)
  • Shellfish (i.e., shrimp, crab, lobster, oysters, etc.)

These are well known to be the eight most common types of food allergens and are the cause of most incidents of food allergy reactions. Although in far fewer numbers, some people may be allergic to other foods such as mustard, garlic, corn, tomatoes, onions, citrus fruits, berries, and seeds (i.e., sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds).

Consult with a Qualified Atlanta Food Safety Lawyer

Ragland Law Firm, LLC is a leading food safety law firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. Its trial attorneys have experience in the litigation of personal injury and wrongful death cases involving food poisoning and anaphylaxis due to a food allergy reaction. Learn more about the firm’s Food Safety Case Results. The food safety lawyers at Ragland Law Firm, LLC are available to pursue lawsuits for consumers located in Atlanta, McDonough, Gainesville, Rome, Dalton, Carrollton, Macon, Albany, Savannah and other cities in Georgia and states throughout the Southeast. If you or a member of your family has suffered anaphylactic shock or other severe allergic food reaction, contact us to discuss the case with a qualified lawyer. There will be no charge for an initial consultation.