The Cleveland Clinic Food Allergy Center is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program that is tailored to the individual needs of our pediatric and adult patients with food allergies.

A food allergy is caused when the body's immune system mistakes an ingredient in food—usually a protein—as harmful and creates a defense system to fight it.

Although a person could have an allergy to almost any food, the following 8 foods account for almost 90% of all food-related allergic reactions:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as cashews and walnuts)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

An allergic reaction occurs when the antibodies are battling an "invading" food protein. 

A Team Approach

Our multidisciplinary care team of allergists, pediatric psychologists, and registered dietitians has extensive experience in diagnosing and caring for pediatric and adult patients living with food allergies. Our team works collaboratively to prevent, diagnose, study, and treat food allergies and diseases caused by reactions to foods.

These unique collaborations include:

  • Food allergy experts in the management of prevention of food allergy in high risk patients, and providing patient-centered care to those with food allergies. Our mission includes treatment of food allergies in carefully select patients using the most up to date therapy, and performance of research in multiple areas of food allergy to improve the lives of our patients.
  • Our team includes registered dietitians for continued care from diagnosis of food allergy, during and post treatment to ensure each patient is achieving nutritional goals though a full assessment. Patients with food allergy have unique dietary needs and our registered dietitians can also assist with creation of food allergy friendly recipes, avoidance strategies, as well as food introduction and substitution recommendations.
  • Pediatric psychologists are available on-site for evaluation and education in management strategies including relaxation strategies for food allergy associated or treatment associated anxiety.

Child With Peanut Allergies Turns to Same Food to Build Tolerance

Harper received oral immunotherapy at Cleveland Clinic to help overcome her food allergies. Read Harper Hoosenally's Story

What We Treat

What We Treat

The Food Allergy Center treats pediatric and adult patients and families with food allergies. These patients frequently have multiple food allergies. In addition, these patients may be diagnosed with other allergic diseases, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis), eczema, and asthma.

Patients with food allergies may suffer from anxiety, isolation, and bullying caused by their food allergies.

We also see patients with disease processes which can be associated with foods such as eosinophilic esophagitis, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome and food protein proctocolitis. 

Patients and families should expect world- class care from a dedicated staff. We can help diagnose, manage and possibly treat the food allergy.

Early Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) Treatment for Pediatric Patients

At the Cleveland Clinic FACE, we offer a full range of food allergy services to even our youngest patients, including food desensitization with oral immunotherapy.

What is Oral Immunotherapy (OIT)?

Oral immunotherapy, or OIT, is a type of food desensitization where children are given small amounts of a food allergen such as peanuts to eat. They continue that dose every day to help develop a tolerance, so that eventually they can consume at least two peanut kernels without a reaction. Some patients who pursue this treatment are eventually able to consume normal serving sizes of the food.

Early oral immunotherapy for patients preschool age and younger has shown to be effective as well, with younger patients often seeing an increased ability to freely eat food they were allergic to before treatment — compared to older pediatric patients.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Early OIT?

Cleveland Clinic is one of the few health systems in the country providing early OIT treatment to children 4 years old and younger. Our pediatric patients have excellent treatment outcomes, based on clinical research and established safety guidelines.

If you are interested in scheduling an evaluation with our team for your child of any age who has been diagnosed with a food allergy, please call 216.444.6503 to discuss your options with one of our food allergy experts.

Our Providers

Our Providers

Sandra Hong, MD
Sandra Hong, MD
Director, Food Allergy Center
Jaclyn Bjelac, MD
Jaclyn Bjelac, MD
Associate Director, Food Allergy Center of Excellence
Margaret Kuder, MD
Margaret Kuder, MD
Associate Staff

The Food Allergy Center of Excellence is also offered at Cleveland Clinic Children’s R Building.

Leigh Ann Kerns, MD
Leigh Ann Kerns, MD
Pediatric Allergist
Kara McNamara, MD
Kara McNamara, MD
Pediatric Allergist

Food allergy providers also offer services at other Cleveland Clinic locations:

Care Team

Care Team

Registered Dietitians

A pediatric, registered dietitian is a licensed health professional who specializes in the nutritional care of children and understands their specific nutritional needs. Cleveland Clinic Children’s has a team of registered dietitians, board certified in pediatrics, who collaborate with physician and multi-disciplinary teams to provide expert, evidence-based nutritional care for infants, children and adolescents. The dietitian provides individual counseling to assess each child’s nutritional needs, develop the most appropriate plan of nutritional support, and monitors nutritional status to ensure an optimal outcome.

  • Hannah Freeman, RD
  • Hillary Nason, RD
  • Diana Schnee, RD


The nursing staff is an integral part of the team caring for our patients and their families. Our nurses are trained in recognizing and treating patients with allergic reactions. They are devoted to giving exceptional care to each and every one of our patients.

  • Linda Ceccaci, RN
  • Jenica Dolar, LPN
  • Jaclyn Kocmit, RN
  • Patricia Nolder, RN
  • Marcia Roeper, RN
  • Debra Smerk, LPN
  • Pamela TeGrotenhuis, RN
  • Marianne Tletski, RN
  • Rachel Whitsel, NP
Appointments & Locations

Appointments & Locations

To schedule an appointment with a provider at the Food Allergy Center of Excellence, please call 216.444.6503.

Virtual Visits

Virtual visits are available for both new consults and follow-up appointments. Please discuss with your provider to determine if this is an option for you.


R Building – Cleveland Clinic Children’s Outpatient Center
8950 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Strongsville Family Health and Surgery Center
16761 South Park Center
Strongsville, Ohio 44136

Food allergy providers also offer services at other Cleveland Clinic locations. You can make an appointment at one of these locations:




Listen to episodes of Cleveland Clinic's podcast Health Essentials about peanut allergies:

Health Essentials

Find medical, health and wellness news, information and insights from Cleveland Clinic:


Find helpful posts from Cleveland Clinic's site for physicians and healthcare professionals. Discover the latest peanut allergy research insights, innovations, treatment trends and more:

Other Online Resources

The Code Ana Program was developed in 2015, focusing on creating a school-wide anaphylaxis response plan. Code Ana’s mission is to equip schools to prevent and be prepared for medical emergencies. Since its creation, the program has been adopted by multiple schools, and thousands of childhood educators have been trained by Code Ana.

Research & Clinical Trials

Research & Clinical Trials

Safety and Efficacy Study of Viaskin Peanut in Peanut-allergic Young Children 1-3 Years of Age (EPITOPE)

EPITOPE is a multicenter international study. The objective of the EPITOPE study is to assess the safety and efficacy of Viaskin Peanut to induce desensitization to peanut in peanut-allergic children 1 to 3 years of age after a 12-month treatment by EPicutaneous ImmunoTherapy (EPIT).

Principal Investigator: Leigh Ann Kerns, MD

Study Coordinator: Lukas Kost, MD

Boiled Peanut Oral Immunotherapy (BPOIT)

A clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of boiled peanut oral immunotherapy in the treatment of peanut allergic children. Enrolling patients ages 1-16 by invitation only at this time.

Principal Investigator: Jaclyn Bjelac, MD

Study Coordinator: Navneet Singh, MD, MS

For Medical Professionals

For Medical Professionals

Patient Referrals

Our secure online service provides referring physicians access to patient’s treatment progress with streamlined communication from Cleveland Clinic physicians to your office, allowing continued participation in the ongoing care of patients. With the best possible treatment plans and coordinated care, our team approach benefits both the patient and the referring physician.