Ever heard of someone developing a life-threatening allergic reaction from something as small as a peanut? Someone suffering an asthma attack just after taking a spoonful of cooked mushrooms? Or a severe attack of migraine triggered by black pepper? These may sound strange, but true! Food allergy is the reaction of the immune system that occurs immediately after eating a certain food. If one has food allergy, the immune system overreacts to a particular protein found in that food. Coming in contact with even a little amount of that particular food can trigger symptoms. Some people may experience severe symptoms from a food allergy, including the potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction (swelling of the throat, airways become narrow blocking breathing). Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock; reactions may simultaneously affect different parts of the body (for example, a stomach-ache accompanied by a rash). Many people think the terms ‘food allergy’ and ‘food intolerance’ mean the same, but they do not. Food intolerance is an adverse food-induced reaction that does not involve the immune system. Lactose intolerance is one example of food intolerance. A person with lactose intolerance lacks an enzyme that is needed to digest milk sugar. When the person eats milk products, symptoms such as gas, bloating and abdominal pain may occur. Although an individual may be allergic to any food, such as fruits, vegetables and meats, these are not as common as the following eight foods which account for 90 per cent of all food-allergic reactions: Milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts (walnut, cashew, etc.), fish, shellfish, soya and wheat.