Oral Food Challenge

What Is an Oral Food Challenge?

An oral food challenge (OFC) is a medical procedure in which a patient is fed gradually increasing amounts of the suspected allergy-causing food over a period of time while under the supervision of a board-certified allergist and trained medical staff. This test is used to confirm or rule out a true food allergy.

An oral food challenge is one of the tools an allergist uses when treating patients with food allergy. Along with a careful medical history and allergy tests, such as skin prick and blood tests, your allergist may recommend an OFC when the other tests are inconclusive.

Oral food challenges may also be performed to determine if a patient can safely consume a food to which they were previously allergic. Often patients, especially children, will outgrow their food allergy. Children most often outgrow their allergy to milk and eggs and an OFC can confirm that is safe to eat these foods and products containing these ingredients.

As patients consume the suspected food allergen, the amounts will be slowly increased as they are watched closely for any sign of an allergic reaction. If the patient has no significant symptoms, they will gradually receive larger and larger doses. If you show signs of a reaction, the food challenge will stop. If necessary, your allergist has medicine available to treat an allergic reaction.

Allergists also perform oral challenges to certain drugs like penicillin and aspirin.

Oral food challenges provide valuable data when diagnosing and treating food allergy. The medical community has developed thorough guidelines and standards for OFCs and studies have shown that these tests are generally safe when handled in this way. OFCs are performed daily in our 17 offices with an excellent safety record. And daily we have patients that can add foods back into their diet with confidence that the challenged food will no longer cause an allergic reaction!

To learn more about diagnosing food allergies and if an oral food challenge is appropriate for you, schedule an appointment with one of our allergy specialists.