Researchers give estimates on prevalence of food allergies

Medical researchers have a clearer picture of the prevalence of food allergies in Canada after a survey found more than three per cent of individuals were allergic to at least one of five foods.

TORONTO — Medical researchers have a clearer picture of the prevalence of food allergies in Canada after a survey found more than three per cent of individuals were allergic to at least one of five foods.The survey of 9,667 individuals has yielded the first nationwide data on allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and sesame, researchers said. They found that 3.2 per cent of people had a probable allergy to at least one of the five items.

The findings were distributed Monday by AllerGen, a national network of researchers focusing on allergies and related immune diseases. Results were also published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“It’s important to know how much of a problem this is in Canada,” said co-author Dr. Ann Clarke, a professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal. “It’s important to have some sort of baseline so that this can be followed over time.”