Food allergies are extremely common across the world and have increased in prevalence over recent decades: cases have risen by 50% in the last 10 years with 7% of the population reported to have an allergy in 2018, while the number was 3% in 1960.
When it comes to their eating habits, celebrities with food allergies may be able to hire world-class chefs and nutritionists to help with dietary requirements. However, they are unable to cure their food allergies or avoid developing new ones as an adult, meaning that they have the same food woes as anyone else dealing with allergies.
Bearing this in mind, we at LiberEat have decided to list some of the most well-known celebrities that have food allergies and the steps they take to stay safe.
1. Malia Obama
American children are developing food allergies at an increasing rate, with the number of those with peanut allergies doubling from 1997 to 2002 among US children. Malia Obama, daughter of President Obama, suffers from a peanut allergy, which was a motivating factor for the president signing H.R. 2094 during his second term. Titled the ‘School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act’, the act encourages states to develop policies requiring schools to use epinephrine auto-injectors, also known as EpiPens, in schools.
EpiPens are typically used to treat a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can result in potentially fatal breathing difficulties. At the signing of the bill, the President said “Some people may know that Malia actually has a peanut allergy. She doesn’t have asthma, but obviously making sure that EpiPens are available in case of [an] emergency in schools is something that every parent can understand.”
2. Zooey Deschanel
Actress and singer Zooey Deschanel has found her diet to be restrictive due to having four different food allergies: dairy, eggs, soy, and wheat; all of which are classified as part of the 14 major allergens in the UK, and the 8 major allergens in the US.
Zooey has been quite candid about the subject, stating that her food difficulties resulted in her initially going vegan before realising her diet was still heavily restricted after the change. It’s quite common to have a dairy or egg allergy, and in both cases, it’s sometimes the case that individuals outgrow the allergy if they were acquired during childhood. It’s also possible that the allergies may persist into adulthood, or that individuals may develop them as they age.
Dairy, eggs, and wheat are commonly used in many foods and the same is true with soy, with Allergy UK stating that as many as 60% of manufactured foods contain the ingredient. It’s often used as an alternative source of protein in vegan foods, so it’s not surprising that Zooey was having difficulties finding safe meals to eat due to her soy allergy in combination with her other allergies.
3. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is another celebrity dealing with multiple allergens, stating that she’sher allergices to both gluten and lactose resulted in her rapid weight loss in 2012. Difficulties digesting gluten and lactose can stem from various issues beyond allergies. It’s possible to develop lactose intolerance, which is caused by not having sufficient lactase enzymes in the body to properly digest lactose. This differs from a typical allergic reaction which is caused by a person’s immune system mistakenly identifying allergens as harmful.
Similarly, trouble digesting gluten may be a result of a gluten allergy, intolerance, or coeliac disease. While all three produce antibodies in response to mistakenly identifying gluten as a harmful allergen within the body, the body’s response differs. Gluten allergy symptoms are the result of a chemical known as histamine, while coeliac disease symptoms are the result of antibodies damaging cells known as villi that line the intestine.
4. Bill Hader
Peanut allergies are becoming increasingly common, with Allergy UK believing that 1 in 50 children are affected. As a result, it’s no surprise the allergy is common amongst celebrities too, with American actor Bill Hader describing a severe allergic reaction to peanuts on Saturday Night Live in 2014.
While on the production set of his then-upcoming film Skeleton Twins, Bill was offered a chocolate bar by a set assistant. Bill reportedly said he couldn’t eat it as he is allergic to peanuts, though the assistant didn’t realise this meant that he also couldn’t eat peanut butter and reassured him that it was safe to eat. As a result of this, Bill had to go to a nearby medical centercentre, where the doctor scolded him for not carrying an EpiPen for emergencies.
Accidents like this highlight why it’s crucial for the public to be aware of the potential danger of allergens and how reactions can be triggered, especially if handling food in a work environment. With proper education and vigilance, we can hopefully maintain a high standard of food safety at work.
5. Drew Brees
NFL Quarterback Drew Brees was diagnosed with diary, gluten, and nut allergies in his early 20s.. He has been involved in many philanthropic endeavours since 2003 when he founded Brees Dream Foundation to support cancer patients and research, and this charitable spirit has been since with his allergen work as well.
Working with his wife Brittany, together they have been involved with the ‘So Delicious Dairy Free’ company which offers dairy-free products such as milk, ice cream, and yoghurt that instead use alternative ingredients like coconut and almond milk. Since his allergy diagnosis, Drew has stated that at home many of the meals he and his wife enjoy at home mainly consist of vegetables, gluten-free pasta, and soy products.
We hope this has given some insight into the difficulties that can arise from food allergies. If you’re interested in learning more about food allergens, we have extensive articles on the 14 allergens available on our site. For food businesses, we similarly have a variety of informative articles covering important legislation such as Natasha’s Law, as well as the consequences of failing to follow food safety laws.
LiberEat Allergen Detection Technology
Food allergen rules and regulations continue to change and evolve. Food businesses must be vigilant when working with ingredients that may contain allergens and exercise due caution when providing ingredient and allergen information to consumers.
LiberEat offers a second line of defence for food businesses by detecting errors, allergens, and other harmful ingredients with their proprietary technology. Food businesses can apply this technology directly to identify errors in allergen communications, preventing the risk of injury. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our allergen detection technology.
LiberEat Allergen Detection Technology is a SaaS platform that provides an allergen safety blanket for food businesses to ensure that consumers are safe and healthy when eating at your restaurant or consuming your food products.
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