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Teen Invents a Tool to Fight Deadly Food Allergies
"I was anxious every time I would eat at restaurants because I did not know if the wait staff fully understood allergies, nor could I see how the meal was being prepared.” – Katie Parkins
[CBN News] – The prevalence of food allergies in children doubled in the last generation. Peanut or tree nut allergies have tripled. These days, about one out of every 13 children has a food allergy, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
These food allergies can be deadly. Sometimes, when a child consumes even a tiny morsel of the food to which they're allergic, their throat and tongue swell so much they can't breathe.
Because of this, parents of children with severe food allergies regularly fear their little one will accidentally eat a forbidden food, especially when dining out. That's because a food allergy issue can get lost in the shuffle between the customer, server and cook.
Katie Parkins is one of those children with potentially fatal food allergies. She told CBN News once she was old enough to go to restaurants with her friends she, too, became worried. "I was anxious every time I would eat at restaurants because I did not know if the wait staff fully understood allergies, nor could I see how the meal was being prepared," she said.
She came up with an idea to draw attention to her food allergies. It's a big, bright teal-colored card that nobody can miss. It's called MyTealTicket. "When the waiter or waitress comes to take my order, I give them MyTealTicket, which clearly explains what I am allergic to, and ask them to hand the filled out MyTealTicket to the chef," she said.
The server can write the actual order on the back of the card.
The young entrepreneur decided to market the safety cards to other allergy sufferers, saying it adds an extra layer of protection than simply speaking your allergy concerns. "It's a better way of communicating about your specific food allergies as the allergens are clearly listed out for the waiter or waitress, manager, and kitchen staff, she said, adding, "I no longer worry that my allergens are going to get mixed up because they are listed and check marked. Additionally, the teal color of the ticket stands out from the other restaurant order forms, which reinforces the extra care that needs to be taken to provide a safe dining experience."
The card lists the eight most common food allergies: dairy, egg, fish, gluten, peanut, shellfish, soy and tree nuts.
Scientists are not certain why food allergies are more common today. Food allergy therapies are being studied in clinic trials, but none has been proven yet for general use. In the meantime, food allergies are best managed by avoiding the problem foods.