Beef, corn cited as allergens in new survey

by Bryan Salvage
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NEW YORK – Food allergies and sensitivities are a serious and growing problem in developed countries. Experts estimate that as many as 60 million people in the U.S. are affected, either with a personal condition or through a family member, and that the number is increasing each year. Beef and corn were among the “surprising” allergens mentioned by several hundred respondents in a recently released survey.

TAXI NYC, an advertising agency, and Food Content Alerts (http://www.foodcontentalerts.com), the world's first interactive food management tool, announced results of the global survey titled "Life with Food Allergies and Sensitivities." More than 1,000 survey respondents from the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia opted into the survey online. The only qualification for participation was that they or someone in their household suffer from a food allergy or sensitivity.

Survey results show food allergies and sensitivities often affect more than one person in a household, with 45% of respondents having two or more allergy sufferers in a single household, while 20% have three or more sufferers. The survey confirmed that the condition has a huge emotional and logistical impact on family life. Sixty-six percent of respondents claimed that life with food sensitivities was difficult, compared with only 10% that found it easy to deal with.

The range of allergens and sensitivities mentioned by respondents was very surprising, said Caroline Krediet, planning director, TAXI NYC. "While we saw large groups suffering from lactose and gluten allergies, 40% of respondents claimed sensitivity to foods not on the typical list of the most common allergies. This indicates that as the number of sufferers grows, so too does the list of food agents that affect them. We were surprised to see beef and corn as allergens mentioned by several hundred respondents."

Feedback on shopping behaviors indicates 87% of respondents rely on memory alone to select safe foods. "Surely this must be limiting to the repertoire of foods they can include in their diet. We hope this is something F.C.A. can help address," said Rich Muhlstock, founder and manager of the F.C.A. website, which was created by TAXI NYC.

Only a small minority of respondents believe food companies do a good job labeling their foods. Sixty percent saw their current practices as inadequate. Whole Foods was first in terms of favorite stores for allergy-free foods, with Trader Joe's not far behind.

The survey was fielded from June 1-21. Respondents were 89% female, with 69% falling between the ages of 25 and 49. More information and detailed results are available at http://www.foodcontentalerts.com.

Last October, the Food Content Alerts (F.C.A.) site was launched following extensive research and development. FoodContentAlerts.com is a free online and mobile application that helps consumers with food sensitivities to manage their personal data. TAXI Canada Inc. TAXI Inc. and TAXI Europe BV are companies with core expertise in strategic planning, advertising, design, interactive, relationship marketing and content.
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