Apps for the Food Allergy Community

By Meleik Goodwill, PhD, Medical Director, Palio

For most people, a Dunkin’ Donuts Boston Crème donut is a guilty pleasure, but for people with nut allergies, indulging in this decadent snack could prove deadly. The company takes pains to alert consumers that its products may be made processed on the same equipment as items made with tree nuts, but for anyone with a life-threatening allergy, taking proactive measures to protect against anaphylactic shock or allergic reaction can be the difference between staying healthy, a trip to an emergency room – or in the worst case, death.

Dunkin’ Donuts takes these measures because food-borne allergies are scary for people susceptible to side effects, as well as for their care givers. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with food allergies has increased 18 percent over the last 15 years. And, it’s not just peanuts that are problematic; eggs, dairy, gluten and certain food additives can all put patients at risk of an allergy attack.

Technologists have put the power of prevention into the hands of patients with a range of apps for the food allergy community, offering everything from emergency medical alerts to menu planning programs. Here’s a look at 10 apps that anyone with food allergy sensitivities could benefit from:

When an allergy attack strikes, seconds matter. Many severe allergy sufferers carry an EpiPen to treat a life-threatening allergic reaction. Parents and care givers receive training on administering epinephrine treatment, but as we all know, when emergencies arise, it’s easy to forget what to do. MyEpiPenApp is a free app, perfect for school nurses or any caregiver needing to administer epinephrine treatment, that provides on-the-spot emergency instruction, ensuring victims are effectively treated.

Allergy Caddy is a mobile app designed for assessing allergens on fly. Using data sourced from restaurant’s publicly released food allergy data and designed for those with food allergies to the top 10 Allergens/Sensitivities – Peanut, Milk, Egg, Wheat, Soy, Gluten, Fish, Shellfish, Tree Nuts, and MSG – , it’s a handy reference for anyone with food allergies or those who care for children with food allergies.

Some apps like SafetoEatTB4 use graphical visuals to identify foods on the safe list based on a particular allergen at restaurants like Taco Bell or Burger King, ensuring no slow down for patrons with allergies wanting fast food.

At the grocery store, E Food Additives offers information about food additives that may have potential harm to your health. WebArtisan Food Additives also identifies food additives that have potential health risks and side effects as well foods that are gluten-free.

For people on the go or traveling away from home, knowing which restaurants are safe can make for a more relaxed dining experience. Visitors to the windy city can check out Gluten Free Chicago, a location-based app that identifies more than 400 restaurants in Chicago that offer gluten-free fare, and a find a restaurant that meets their dietary requirements.

For travelers traveling abroad, translating foreign-language food menus can be challenging for allergy suffers. Turns out, there’s an app for that! Perdue University’s menu translator makes sense of foreign menus, helping restaurant visitors identify dangers when they’re in another country.

Some allergic reactions are less severe or victims may not correlate symptoms to food they’ve ingested. Food Allergy Detective helps consumers assess their symptoms and pinpoint food allergies.

For home cooks preparing meals for a family, Cook it Allergy Free helps users find recipes, substitutions for trigger foods or create and share their own recipes with their friends. With a simple tap, chefs can customize recipes and keep their family safe.

Is there an allergy app you can’t live without? Share it in the comments!

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2 comments

  • Paul Antico July 6, 2012

    ALLERGYEATS MOBILE for iPhone and Android is the on-the-go version of the original AllergyEats website (www.allergyeats.com) – the largest and fastest-growing guide to allergy-friendly restaurants. Food-allergic diners can search for allergy-friendly restaurants based on the ratings of other food-allergic diners. This is where the US food allergy community comes together to share which restaurants “get it” and which don’t. This peer-based guide also includes menus, restaurant website links, allergen info, gluten-free menus, nutrition charts, certifications, and more! The best one-stop shop before you eat out with food allergies!

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  • Julie Sane July 6, 2012

    This says “foods on the safe list based on a particular allergen at restaurants like Taco Bell or Burger King” We recently revisited the Taco Bell website and found the following alert, “1.Peanuts and tree nuts are not used at Taco Bell® restaurants. May be used in common manufacturing plants.” Based on that information, we are no longer considering Taco Bell safe for our peanut/treenut allergic child.

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