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November 25, 1992

Food Allergies

JAMA. 1992;268(20):2840-2844. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490200092010

THE TERMS food allergy and food hypersensitivity are synonymous when applied to a group of diseases that are characterized by an abnormal or exaggerated immunologic response to specific food allergens resulting in disease. Food allergy can be subdivided into two broad categories: disorders that are mediated by IgE, which are generally rapid in onset, and those that occur by non-IgE—mediated mechanisms. Food intolerance is a term used to describe an abnormal physiological response to an ingested food or food additive. Such reactions are not immunologic in nature and may include idiosyncratic, metabolic, pharmacological, or toxic responses.1

The public perception of the importance of allergic reactions to foods substantially exceeds the prevalence of such reactions identified in clinical studies. Reports from prospective surveys have shown that at least one in four atopic adults believe that they have experienced adverse reactions following the ingestion or handling of foods. Similarly, parents believe