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Another Person's PoisonA History of Food Allergy$
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Matthew Smith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164849

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164849.001.0001

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“Witchcraft, A Fad, or A Racket?”

(p.1) Introduction
Another Person's Poison

Matthew Smith

Columbia University Press

This introductory chapter begins with a review of some contemporary statistics about food allergy. Food allergies, for instance, occur when the immune system overreacts to proteins found in food. Today it is estimated that 4 percent of adults and 8 percent of children in North America are allergic to some food, including peanuts, eggs, and milk. The chapter then sets out the book's purpose, namely to describe the history of food allergy in order to address the following questions: Why has food allergy transformed from a questionable medical entity to a condition deemed serious enough to change the ways in which we produce, prepare, and consume food? Why has food allergy always been so controversial? Why have explanations for food allergy been so elusive? And why are more and more children allergic to food. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords:   food allergies, history, food allergy, allergic reactions

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