Food Allergies Are Multi-Billion Dollar Industry - Celiac Disease
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Jun 8 2008

Food Allergies Are Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

Today I noticed that food allergies were featured in the Washington Post and figured I would share.  Though it isn’t specific to Celiac Disease, it certainly applies to us.    Here is an excerpt from their post:

The market for food-allergy and intolerance products is projected to reach $3.9 billion this year, according to Packaged Facts, a New York research firm. And the market for gluten-free foods and drinks is expected to hit $1.3 billion by 2010, up from $700 million in 2006, according to research firm Mintel.

An estimated 12 million people in the United States have food allergies, and another 2 million have celiac disease, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks itself when exposed to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Those figures are expected to rise. The number of children with peanut allergies alone has doubled in the past decade. Food-induced anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction, causes about 30,000 emergency room visits and 150 to 200 deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Medical experts don’t know why the number of people with food allergies is increasing. Theories include reduced contact with germs, exposure to certain environmental pollutants and, in the case of peanut allergies, the way peanuts are processed and when they are introduced into people’s diet. None of the theories is backed by much research.

“We don’t know if some of them are true or there’s some truth to all of them,” said Marshall Plaut, chief of the allergic mechanisms section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Until scientists learn more, the prescription for people with life-threatening food allergies or celiac is to avoid the foods that make them sick, a task that is getting easier.

Whereas a decade ago, the “free from” food market consisted of small manufacturers whose products were sold mainly in health-food stores, today it encompasses an ever-growing list of start-up companies, mainstream retailers such as Safeway and Giant Food, and some food industry giants such as General Mills.

Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!

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