The prevalence of food allergies in America is estimated to be around 8% in children and somewhere less than 10% in the populations as a whole.  The number of people with food allergies appears to be growing, but explanations for the increase are uncertain, and studies are complicated by inconsistent case definitions. According to a study released in 2013 by the CDC, food allergies among children 0 – 17 years of age increased from 3.4% to 5.1%, an increase of 50%, between 1997 and 2011. 
The eight most common food allergens, which account for 90% of food allergies, are:
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (for example, almonds, walnuts, or pecans)
  • Fish (for example, ​bass, flounder, or cod)
  • Crustacean shellfish (for example, lobster, crab, or shrimp)
  • Soy
  • Wheat
When an individual eats or drinks something containing his or her allergen, he or she can have a reaction anywhere from itching and tingling, all the way to severe and potentially fatal reactions such as anaphylaxis involving circulatory collapse and cardiac arrest.  There is currently no preventive treatment or cure for food allergies; only strict avoidance will prevent a reaction. 
As of March 1, 2014, state law (Maryland Code Annotated, Health-General 21-330.2(A)) requires that "a food establishment shall display prominently in the staff area of the food establishment a poster related to food allergy awareness that includes information regarding the risk of an allergic reaction." 
**Note -- In some browsers this poster may not print correctly.  If it prints with edit marks, please use a different browser or download and print directly from Adobe Acrobat.