A food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food protein. They are distinct from other adverse responses to food, such as food intolerance, pharmacological reactions, and toxin-mediated reactions.
The protein in the food is the most common allergic component. These kinds of allergies occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a protein as harmful. Some proteins or fragments of proteins are resistant to digestion and those that are not broken down in the digestive process are tagged by the Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These tags fool the immune system into thinking that the protein is harmful. The immune system, thinking the organism (the individual) is under attack, triggers an allergic reaction. These reactions can range from mild to severe. Allergic responses include dermatitis, gastrointestinal, and respiratory distress, including such life-threatening anaphylactic responses as biphasic anaphylaxis and vasodilation; these require immediate emergency intervention. Individuals with protein allergies commonly avoid contact with the problematic protein.
The scope of the problem, particularly for young people, is a significant public health issue.
Source: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_allergy