6% of Spanish children have a food allergy identified in the dining room of his school. Specifically, among 15,000 school menus analyzed, the records count up to 969 different allergies, as reflected in the 'I Observatory of Food Allergies in School Canteens' made by the Mediterranean company, dedicated to catering services.
The percentage has barely increased compared to the last year of which records are available, in 2017, when a relation of the 5.95% of students with allergies. "We do not believe that there has been a significant relative increase in the number of allergies, but the truth is that there are more and more multialergies, that is, the same student with several allergies to different types of food," he says Rocío Royo, Director of the Mediterranean Nutrition area, through a statement.
Vegetable allergy drops to 12%, that is, 8 points less than the course of two years ago
"This forces increasingly consider different food profiles, not only for allergies, but also for intolerances or personal and dietary choices, such as menus without veal or pork, and lately vegetarian or vegan options, "Royo continues." In the last year, we have multiplied by four times Some centers have the available food profiles, which is an organizational and logistical challenge, "he adds.
Nuts: the most allergens
The most common and common allergies during the 2018 and 2019 school year have been within the category of nuts, which are almost 20% of all identified. Second, they are legumes (with more than 15%) and egg, with 13% of total allergies.
Compared to the 2016-2017 academic year, the negative reactions to food that have increased the most have been in legumes, shellfish and milk. To a lesser extent, those related to additives such as dyes or glutamate have grown, which in any case (and interestingly) is the category that presents less allergies. On the contrary, it decreases the number of hypersensitivity to fruits and vegetables among children, which represent 12% of allergies among students. A good news without a doubt, since for some years the school canteens are very aware of a healthy and balanced diet for the little ones in which the vegetables continue to stand out as the most beneficial products for their health.
As we see in the table, the types of allergies that have fallen the most have been the vegetables (about 8%), followed by cereals, gluten and eggs (between 5 and 6%). Those that grew together with the nuts were legumes (about 6%), shellfish and crustaceans (almost 5%), milk (a little more than 3.5%), additives (1.7%), and finally, fish (barely 0.30%).
And the gluten?
Despite the growing social awareness of the needs of the celiac community, the intolerances registered with cereals with gluten they are now significantly lower than two years ago, Mediterranean emphasizes in its report. If in 2017 they accounted for just over 15%, currently only around 10% of the intolerances identified.
"Celiac disease is not the intolerance that we find most often in school canteens," Royo says. "Although it limits the consumption of many foods, it is one of the most identified tolerances in which society is more mature. On the menus, we usually substitute cereals with gluten for other options such as rice, quinoa, corn or oOther gluten-free products. Another option that we currently think is interesting is to use chickpea flour, if it is necessary to batter or breach, since it is also an option with greater nutritional value and is very useful in vegan diets, "he says.
The 'I Food Allergy Observatory in School Canteens' has been created to disseminate nutritional information of interest that may guide professionals in the school community, and to society in general, as well as to help to become aware of the importance of a diet adapted to the needs of the students. Especially, about the different types of allergies and particularities existing in school canteens and their increasing complexity to sensitize families and centers of the need of schools to adapt to the specific needs of each child.