Of all the 14 major allergens, celery allergy is one of the least discussed. Despite being relatively common across Europe, there are no exact figures of its prevalence in the UK. Regardless, the dangers can be severe, and it’s essential to be aware of any potential symptoms and how to avoid the ingredient in the future if suffering from the allergen. For businesses, it’s necessary to be mindful of the 14 major allergens to keep consumers safe, and to follow UK food labelling law to highlight potential allergens on food packaging.
What is a Celery Allergy?
The most common form of celery allergy is caused by celery being mistaken as a hostile foreign substance in the body known as an antigen. As a result, a compound called histamine is released. The compound triggers typical allergy symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Rashes, which may be itchy
- Swelling of the mouth, face, throat, or other areas of the body
- Becoming nauseated
- Sneezing or itchy eyes
- Anaphylaxis (such as breathing difficulties, tightness of the chest, trouble swallowing or talking, and/or dizziness)
With celery being in many different foods, it can be hard to avoid, though some of the most common foods containing celery as an ingredient include:
- Stock cubes
- Soups and stews
- Spice mixes
It’s important to note that some people have an allergy to celeriac, a form of celery eaten for its nutritious roots. It’s acknowledged that celeriac reactions are quite common in Europe, where the root is eaten more commonly than in other parts of the world, but the stalk can also cause allergic reactions due to the seeds inside. These are typically used in stocks and spices, as mentioned above. If you believe you may be allergic to any part of the plant, it’s best to stay away from it entirely.
Businesses, such as food manufacturers, need to state ‘celery’ as an allergen on food products where present; additionally, restaurants and eateries must also declare celery on menus, especially if celery salt is added.
Food businesses in the UK are legally required to label potential allergens in their food products and risk unlimited fines from local authorities if they don’t comply. It’s crucial to display allergen information for your food, as failing to do so can result in reputational damage for the business and severe health risks to customers. To help companies avoid this, here at LiberEat, we have developed our Allergen and Error Detection Technology – to work as a second line of defence, preventing errors from manual entry or supplier data.
One of the most dangerous allergic reactions is anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. As well as mild allergy symptoms such as nausea and itching, the symptoms may get rapidly worse. In the most dangerous scenario, the person suffering from a reaction will go into shock, resulting in blood pressure drops and breathing difficulties due to narrowing airways. If someone near you appears to be going into anaphylactic shock, it’s vital to call an ambulance, and if available, use an epinephrine auto-injector (‘EpiPen’) provided if you know how to administer it.
Pollen Food Syndrome
Many of the allergic reactions stemming from celery result from a condition known as Pollen Food Syndrome, also known as oral allergy syndrome. Those affected will display allergic symptoms primarily around the lips, mouth, and throat after eating some foods such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. These symptoms typically include itching and swelling of the lips, mouth, and throat, and in rarer cases, can consist of severe reactions, including breathing difficulties and difficulty swallowing.
It’s believed that celery and other fruits and vegetables can cause pollen food syndrome because these foods have a similar protein structure to pollen in their raw form. As a result, the immune system mistakenly identifies them as pollen and triggers a similar reaction to hay fever.
Cooking these foods will vastly reduce the risk of pollen food syndrome as the process changes the protein structure. However, there have still been documented cases of patients showing symptoms of the condition after eating cooked meals.
LiberEat Allergen Detection Technology
LiberEat’s Allergen Detection Technology provides an allergen safety blanket for food businesses. LiberEat offers a second line of defence for food businesses by detecting allergens and other harmful ingredients found in food. Food businesses can apply this technology directly to identify errors in allergen communications, preventing the risk of injury or loss of life.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about our Allergen Detection Technology, a SaaS offering for food safety and quality assurance.