Dosey doe(n’t) forget about your food allergies at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

A funnel cake being sprinkled with powdered sugar.

The 2024 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo season is now underway!

With hundreds of food vendors at the carnival and NRG Stadium, Arena and Park combined, there is no shortage of fried foods, sweets and barbecued meats to devour. However, some of these meals can be challenging for people with food allergies. Dr. Sara Anvari, associate professor of pediatrics – allergy and immunology, explains how people with food allergies can enjoy this yearly event while also being cautious of their food choices.

Reading labels and checking ingredients is imperative. If food ingredients aren’t listed, Anvari says to ask questions.

“You really want something that’s prepackaged and from a manufacturer so that you can read the ingredient label and make sure that what you’re eating doesn’t contain the allergen you’re allergic to,” Anvari said. “If you’re not 100 percent certain or feel confident that what you’re allergic to might actually be in your food, then it’s best to play it safe and stay away from it.”

The top nine food allergies are milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and sesame. With the number of foods available at the rodeo, you don’t know if the curly fries, funnel cake or fried Oreos you are about to consume have been cooked in an oil that could have been cross-contaminated with your allergen from another food fried in that same oil.

“Avoid consuming foods with unknown ingredients or if you worry that the food you want to consume could have been cross-contaminated with your allergen,” Anvari said.

Common reactions of those with food allergies include:

  • Skin/Eye reactions: hives, a rash, lip or eye swelling, eye redness
  • Respiratory reactions: coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing
  • Gastrointestinal reactions: severe abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting

If you have food allergies, Anvari suggests bringing your epinephrine autoinjector, antihistamines or other unexpired allergy medications in case of an emergency. Also, it’s good to have a buddy system – you may not notice your rash or facial swelling after eating, but another person you are with will.

“We want people to experience the fun of going to an event like this, but also remain safe and prepared,” she said. “Have a food allergy action plan. Also, know how to use your epinephrine autoinjector.”

By Taylor Barnes

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