Important notice to customers — product packaging changesLearn More

NEW FOOD PACKAGING IN STORE NOW

From August 2018, customers will notice our rebranded food packaging start to appear on shelf in all major stockists.

  • CURRENT Packaging
  • new Packaging

We are excited to announce our new packaging will start to appear on shelf from August 2018. This transition to new packaging will occur over a number of months. During this time there will be a mix of current and new packaging on shelf.

There are no major changes to these products, in some instances there is a small name change or slight recipe improvement, see below for the full details.

Products purchased via the website will be delivered to customers in our old packaging until the end of October. From November, products ordered from the website will be delivered in the new packaging.

Please note, our Infant Formula packaging will not be rebranded until later in 2019.

For any questions, connect with our team of accredited practising Dietitians on +61 3 6332 9200

Product name changes

  • Cereal Name Changes
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Baby Rice
  • NEW Packaging Organic Rice with Prebiotic (GOS) Note: Our Baby Rice recipe has been upgraded to now include GOS Prebiotic
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Vanilla Rice Custard
  • NEW Packaging Organic Milk & Vanilla Baby Rice
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Apple & Cinnamon Porridge
  • NEW Packaging Organic Apple & Cinnamon Baby Porridge
  • Ready To Serve Name Changes
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Banana, Pear & Mango
  • New Packaging Organic Banana, Pear, Apple & Mango
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Mango, Blueberry & Apple
  • New Packaging Organic Blueberry, Mango & Apple
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Peach & Apple
  • New Packaging Organic Grape, Apple & Peach
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Pumpkin & Tomato Risotto
  • New Packaging Organic Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Tomato
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Broccoli, Beef & Brown Rice
  • New Packaging Organic Beef & Vegetables
  • Note: We have also upgraded some of our RTS recipes to remove added sugars and to remove some of the more complex ingredients that are not required for young children such as Tamari.
  • RUSKS NAME CHANGES
  • CURRENT Packaging Organic Milk Rusks Toothiepegs
  • New Packaging Organic Milk Rusks
Home/Nutrition & Recipes/Articles/Infant & Toddler Nutrition/Allergies & Intolerances/Understanding the Complexities of Food Allergies and Sensitivities in Children

Understanding the Complexities of Food Allergies and Sensitivities in Children

Food allergies occur in around 10% of infants (under 12 months), 4-8% of children and 2% of adults in Australia and New Zealand, and this number is increasing. For parents who are managing children with food allergies for the first time, it can be a rather scary and overwhelming time. One of the most common concerns for parents of children with food allergies is the exposure of that food allergen that may cause serious harm. It is important to seek advice from a trained medical professional to ensure that the appropriate diagnosis can been made, and that you are supported with the correct information for safe management of food allergies in your child so that they can continue to be happy, safe and healthy.

1: What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts in response to the exposure of an allergen food. For people without a food allergy, these foods are non-harmful and only present as a risk to those who are sensitive (with a diagnosed food allergy). A food allergy can develop at any age but is most commonly seen in children less than 5 years of age.

The top ten allergen foods include:

Common Food Allergens
EggSoy
MilkWheat
Tree nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnutsCrustacea: crab, shrimp, prawn, lobster, krill, crayfish
PeanutsFish
Sesame seedsLupin

Most children allergic to cow’s milk, soy, wheat or egg will outgrow their food allergy. Children that have allergic reactions to peanut, tree nuts, sesame and seafood often persist in approximately 75% of children affected.

The above image is from

2: What are the symptoms of a food allergy?

If you think your baby has had an allergic reaction to any food, stop giving that food and seek advice from your doctor who may refer you to a clinical immunology/allergy specialist.

There several symptoms to look out for to identify if you think your child has a food allergy which are classed as moderate or severe allergic reactions.

Moderate allergic reactions are not life threatening, however, in young children, repeat exposures of the allergen foods causing these reactions may then induce severe allergic reactions when that food is consumed again. Below is a list of common symptoms to watch out for.

Signs of a moderate allergic reactionSigns of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
Swelling lipsDifficulty/ noisy breathing
Swelling eyesSwelling of the tongue and throat
Swelling faceChange in voice or cry and/or difficulty vocalising
Hives or weltsPale and floppy
VomitingCollapse

There are several factors that will impact on the type of reaction experienced in children with food allergies. These include:

  • The severity of the allergy (milk, moderate or severe)
  • The amount of food eaten
  • The form of food – solid, liquid, cooked, uncooked
  • Whether food was mixed or eaten on its own
  • The presence or absence of asthma

If you are not sure whether your baby is having a severe allergic reaction or not, it is better to seek urgent medical attention or dial 000 as anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.

3: When should you introduce food allergens?

Research shows that giving your baby the common allergy causing foods before they are one year of age. Delaying the introduction of the common allergy causing foods will not prevent food allergy and, in some cases, may increase a child’s risk. Therefore, from around 6 months, you can start to introduce first foods including known allergen foods such as smooth peanut butter/paste, well-cooked egg and wheat-based products. If your baby is allergic to a food or shows signs of a reaction to a known allergen food, DO NOT continue to feed your baby that food. If you think your baby has a food allergy, you should seek advice from your doctor. It is important that food allergies are confirmed by a doctor through the relevant testing.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. From around 6 months, they should be offered nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond if possible. Breastfeeding may not prevent allergies but is essential in helping an infant build a robust immune system in conjunction with many other noted benefits. If breastfeeding is not possible, parents may wish to use a standard cow’s milk based infant formula. Infants that have an anaphylactic allergy to cows’ milk are not advised to consume any dairy based infant formulas e.g. Cow, Goat, Sheep and advice should be sought from a healthcare professional.

To determine if your baby is at risk, click this link from the Australian Allergy Prevention website and scroll down the page to the “risk tool”.

4: How do you manage a food allergy?

Whilst severe allergic reactions may be fatal, death as a result of a food allergy is rare and most deaths can be prevented by:

  • Careful allergen avoidance which also includes reducing contamination, label reading of packaged foods, careful storage of known allergen foods
  • Immediate administration of an adrenaline autoinjector (EpiPen). An adrenaline autoinjector (EpiPen) is designed to administer a single and fixed dose of adrenaline to assist with relieving the side effects of a severe allergy and can given by anyone, including those who are not medically trained. First aid courses also provide education on using an EpiPen.
  • Informing family, friends, childcare centres, schools and your baby’s usual carer
  • Informing restaurants and other food retailers of an allergy

Medical diagnosis and testing

A medical doctor will be able to determine if your child has a food allergy. Once your child is diagnosed, they may be referred to a more specialised medical team including an Allergist and an Accredited Practising Dietitian who have extensive experience in this area. The safe management of food allergies is a constantly changing area of medicine. You should always choose. Whilst some children may phase out of their food allergies, there is currently no cure for food allergies and medical input should be central to your child’s management.

Food avoidance

If you dine out, you should advise your service team of any allergies your baby or anyone else in the family may have. Emphasise the importance of food avoidance and contamination and possible outcomes that could result from an anaphylactic reaction if your child is exposed to that food allergen.

Reading labels

It is mandatory that allergens must be declared for any food or beverage sold in Australia.

Referring to the example food label below, all food allergens will be highlighted in bold. In addition, there will be an Allergen warning under the ingredients list. Avoidance should still take place if a product “may contain traces of” the food allergen.

School and Childcare

There are a number of things you can do to help you child feel safe from allergens within the childcare and school environment. Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia offer a wonderful checklist that you can follow. Each school and childcare will have their own allergy management plans for children with food allergies. You should discuss this further with the management team to ensure your child is receiving the appropriate care in the event of a medical emergency.

Bellamy’s Organic Pear and Vanilla Custard

5: What is Coeliac Disease?

Otherwise known as an autoimmune condition, Coeliac Disease (CD) results in damage to the lining of the small intestine in response to the consumption of gluten in the diet. The body will mount an immune response against gluten entering the body which causes this damage.

Which foods contain gluten?

The management of CD requires the permanent exclusion of gluten containing foods from the diet. People with CD must also be cautious of contamination which can be enough to cause damage in the small intestine. This makes is difficult to eat out and eat outside the home unless extreme caution is taken. Unlike some food allergies, CD cannot be outgrown and is a lifelong condition that be diagnosed at any time. Gluten must be listed on the allergen warnings of food labels. Below is a guide of a number of gluten containing foods.

Gluten Containing Foods
Bread*, breadcrumbs*, breakfast cereals*, porridge, oatsWheaten corn flour, soy sauce*, yeast extract (vegemite)
Cakes*, biscuits*, pastries*Gravy*, soup*
Pasta*, wheat-based noodles, pizza*Beer and Malt drinks e.g. Milo
Couscous, semolina, burghul, freekeh, barleySausages*, hamburgers*, sausage rolls, small goods
Stuffing e.g. Chicken and batter e.g. fish and chipsIcing sugar*

*Gluten free options available

For an extensive list, please visit Coeliac Australia

Symptoms of CD

The symptoms of CD can vary from person to person where some people may not experience symptoms at all. Some symptoms may include:

  • gastrointestinal symptoms e.g. diarrhoea and stomach pain
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • iron deficiency anaemia and/or other vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • failure to thrive or delayed puberty in children
  • weight loss (although some people may gain weight)
  • bone and joint pains
  • recurrent mouth ulcers and/or swelling of mouth or tongue
  • altered mental alertness and irritability
  • skin rashes such as dermatitis herpetiformis
  • easy bruising of the skin

For more information on Coeliac Disease, visit Coeliac Australia

6: What is a Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA)?

This is one of the most common causes of food allergy in children occurring when a child’s immune system reacts to protein in milk. Whilst this is often outgrown by around 3-5 years, complete avoidance of foods containing cow’s milk protein are recommended. Foods that contain cow’s milk protein include: Cow milk, cheese, custard, dried milk, kefir, lactose free milk, milk solids, yoghurt. Food labels should always be read to determine if cow’s milk is a possible allergen.

Symptoms of CMPA

  • Gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain
  • Skin conditions such as itchiness, rash, and swelling
  • Respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, wheezing, coughing and sneezing
  • Blood in the stool – often seen in a child’s nappy

Your doctor will advise if they think your child’s symptoms may be related to CMPA but avoidance of dairy containing foods (cow, goat, sheep milk) is the only way to help manage this condition. If you infant is formula fed, seek medical advice on the appropriate alternatives on the market.

7: What are food intolerances?

Compared to food allergies, food intolerances (or sensitivities) are more common, particularly for adults. Unlike food allergies, food intolerances do not involve the immune system and do not cause severe allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis. Food intolerance can be caused by natural chemicals in foods or by chemicals that are added to foods. E.g. Gluten sensitivity, Lactose intolerance, Preservatives, Salicylates. A medical diagnosis should be made to determine the best strategies for management, however, food intolerances are rare in infants and toddlers. There are many different symptoms of food intolerance. These may include:

  • Hives (or rashes) and/or swellings
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Stomach and/or bowel upsets
  • Sinus and/or breathing problems.

8: Where can I get more information?

Summary

There is an important difference between food allergies and intolerances.

  • Food allergies are the immune systems heightened response to a consumed food allergen (e.g. soy, fish, wheat, peanuts) that can result in very serious symptoms and should be treated as a medical emergency if a child develops severe anaphylaxis.
  • Whilst some food allergies may be outgrown, it is important that food avoidance and proper education are provided to families and carers of infants and toddlers with food allergies.
  • Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy is one of the most common causes of food allergy in children occurring when a child’s immune system reacts to protein in milk which is often outgrown by around 3-5 years. Avoidance of cow’s milk protein should take place to effectively manage this condition.
  • Food intolerances do not generally result in any serious symptoms other than digestive discomfort. Young children with food intolerances do not have to adhere to strict food avoidance and these symptoms are often phased out.

Breastfeeding is best

The World Health Organisation recommends that breastfeeding is best for your baby such that breastfeeding will provide the best start to life nutritionally and will also bring other benefits to a mother and her baby. Having a balanced diet when breastfeeding is also important. Infant Formulas should only be used after you’ve sought advice from a doctor or health practitioner. A decision not to breastfeed can be difficult to reverse and introducing partial bottle feeding may reduce the supply of breast milk. It is also wise to consider the cost of infant formula. If you use infant formula, all preparation and feeding instructions must be followed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. This is important for your baby’s health.

Disclaimer: The content of this document is solely for educational purposes and should not be substituted for medical advice. You are solely responsible for forming your own opinions and conclusions on such matters and for making your own independent assessment of the information. Please consult your doctor if you are concerned about your baby’s health. If you think your baby is experiencing an allergic reaction, please dial 000 as this is a medical emergency.

About the author

Marisa Nastasi is an Accredited Practising Dietitian for Bellamy’s Organic. She specialises in children's nutrition and has recently completed further studies in paediatric dietetics. She has worked in the industry for 8 years and has developed a strong working knowledge on how good quality diets can benefit the health of children so that they can develop to their full potential.

Important Notice to Parents and Guardians

  • The World Health Organisation recommends that breastfeeding is best for your baby.
  • Having a balanced diet when breastfeeding is also important. Infant Formulas should only be used after you’ve sought advice from a doctor or health practitioner.
  • A decision not to breastfeed can be difficult to reverse and introducing partial bottle feeding may reduce the supply of breast milk. It is also wise to consider the cost of infant formula.
  • If you use infant formula, all preparation and feeding instructions must be followed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. This is important for your baby’s health.