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Food Allergy Awareness Week at Festival Foods

Michelle Leisso

Meet Michelle! She's a pricing administrator who works at Festival Foods' Onalaska support office. She is allergic to a number of foods, including shellfish, soy and corn. We're highlighting Michelle's story because May 14-20 is Food Allergy Awareness Week.  Food allergies are very serious issues for Michelle and so many people.

A number of years ago, Michelle was taking a break from teaching a professional class to adults when she grabbed a bag of pre-popped popcorn to eat. A little later, when she was trying to talk to the class, her throat felt like it was tightening up.

When she dug her previously eaten bag of popcorn out of the garbage and read the ingredients, she discovered sunflower oil was the second item listed. She had an inhaler and took a couple of puffs. 

During this time, a first responder who had been in her class took over and excused the students. One went to the break room and retrieved can of Coke to drink (caffeine helps stimulate the body).

"I was very lucky because I paid attention to my body and responded quickly.  I always carry my inhaler and an Epi Pen just in case," Michelle said. "My family is very good about reading the ingredients on packages. Reading the ingredients has been a part of my shopping routine when I look at getting something new."

Education and awareness can help prevent severe reactions, like the one Michelle experienced. That's why Festival Foods -- and our Food Safety Team -- is diligent about helping keep you and your family safe. The Food Allergy Research & Education group has great information on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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