Adverse food reaction is the broad descriptive term given to clinically abnormal responses that occur after the ingestion of food or food additives. These responses can be divided into those that do not involve the immune system (food intolerance) and those that are mediated by the immune system (food allergy or hypersensitivity). There are many causes of food intolerance, including the presence of toxic contaminants such as histamine in scombroid fish; the pharmacologic properties of the food, as with tyramine in cheese; a metabolic dysfunction in the patient, such as lactase deficiency; and idiosyncratic responses. The term food allergy is used to describe responses mediated by the host immune system, independent of any physiologic effect of the food or food additive.

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