Food Allergies

Hold "Ctrl" and Press "F" to search for keywords on this page.

Food allergies are an abnormal reaction to food. An allergic reaction usually occurs within minutes or up to 2 hours after you eat a food item. About 1 in 20 children are allergic to at least one food.

There is good news, except for peanuts and tree nuts, most children tend to outgrow their food allergies.

Major Food Allergens

  • Milk
  • Tree nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Crustacean shellfish (e.g. crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  • Eggs

Signs of an allergic reaction

  • Sneezing, runny nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing
  • Itchy skin or eyes
  • Swelling
  • Nausea, diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, and cramps
  • Hives
  • Flushed skin or rash

Please note: A small percentage of people have severe reactions that can threaten their lives.

How to help manage a food allergy

  • Get help: Your health care provider is an expert that can help.
  • Avoid offering problem foods: Be aware that mixed foods may contain some problem ingredients.
  • Find out about food substitutes: Your child may be missing out on key       nutrients, so offer other foods with the same nutrient benefits.
  • Read the ingredient list on food labels: See if a packaged food has the problem ingredient. (Ingredients may change so be sure to read the label every time).
  • Tell all caregivers: Bring a note from your health care provider to the daycare center.  Be sure to tell babysitters, grandparents, other relatives, and friends.
  • Order carefully for your child: When you eat out, ask about the ingredients.
  • Take food from home: If you’re not sure about food away from home, pack food for you child.  Let them help for fun!
  • Role-play with your child: Practice what to do when a problem food is offered.

How to read a label for food allergies

How are allergens listed on the food label?

  • In the ingredient list, using the common name
  • Using the word ‘contains’ followed by the allergen. (Contains: Nuts)
  • In the ingredient list in parentheses, for example, “albumin (egg)”

Milk Allergy

Avoid foods that contain milk or any of these ingredients:

  • Butter, Buttermilk, Casein, Tagatose, Cheese, Lactose, Cream, Lactulose, Ghee, Diacetyl, Yogurt, Half-and-half, Sour Cream, Custard, Cottage Cheese, Pudding, Milk (in all forms), Whey (in all forms)    

Milk is sometimes found in the following:

  • Baked Goods, Caramel Candies, Chocolate, Luncheon Meat, Hot Dogs, Sausages, Artificial Butter Flavor, Margarine

You will find the term “non-dairy” on food items like creamers and frozen whipped toppings.

Always read the complete list of ingredients. Be sure to look for this type of wording on packages:

  • “Natural Flavoring”- contains caseinate a milk protein
  • “Sodium caseinate”- a milk by-product
  • “Contains: Milk”

Peanut Allergy

Avoid foods that contain peanuts or any of these ingredients:

  • Artificial Nuts, Monkey Nuts, Nutmeat, Peanut Flour, Mixed Nuts, Beer Nuts, Nut Pieces, Peanut Butter, Ground Nuts, Peanut Oil, Peanut Protein Hydrolysate

Peanuts are sometimes found in the following:

  • Baked Goods, Enchilada Sauce, Marzipan, Mole Sauce, Chili, Candy, Egg Rolls, Nougat, and African, Asian, and Mexican Dishes

Egg Allergy

Avoid foods that contain eggs or any of these ingredients:

  • Egg, Eggnog, Mayonnaise, Albumin, Meringue, Ovalbumin, Lysozyme, Surimi

Eggs are sometimes found in the following:

  • Marshmallows, Pasta, Egg Substitutes, Baked Goods, Macaroni

Wheat Allergy

Avoid foods that contain wheat or any of these ingredients:

  • Bread Crumbs, Soy Protein, Pasta, Semolina, Flour, Matzo, Bulgur, Cereal Extract, Couscous, Durum, Wheat, Triticale

Wheat is sometimes found in the following:

  • Glucose syrup, Surimi (Chinese Fish Puree), Starch, Soy Sauce

Soy Allergy

Avoid foods that contain soy or any of these ingredients:

  • Soya, Soy Protein, Tamari, Tofu, Shoyu, Miso, Soybean, Soy Sauce, Tempeh, Soy, Natto, Edamame

Soy is sometimes found in the following:

  • Asian cuisine, Vegetable Broth, Vegetable Gum, Vegetable Starch

Shellfish Allergy

Avoid foods that contain shellfish or any of these ingredients:

  • Crab, Lobster, Shrimp, Crawfish, Prawn

Your doctor may advise you to avoid mollusks or these ingredients:

  • Clams, Octopus, Snails, Fish Stock, Cuttlefish Ink, Mussels, Oysters, Squid, Seafood Flavoring

Please note: Be aware that cross-contamination may occur in seafood restaurants that serve many kinds of seafood.

Tree Nut Allergy

Avoid foods that contain nuts or any of these ingredients:

  • Almonds, Butternut, Chestnuts, Ginkgo Nuts, Nut Butters, Pesto, Walnuts, Artificial Nuts, Cashews, Coconut, Hickory Nuts, Pecans, Pistachios, Macadamia Nuts

Tree Nuts are sometimes found in the following:

  • Nut Oils, Black walnut hull extract (flavoring), Nut distillate/alcoholic extracts
  • Vegan or vegetarian foods

What is “cross contact” and how can it be avoided?

Cross contact is when the food allergen is transferred to a food meant to be allergen free. Even if the infected food is cooked, the food allergen may still be present.

  • If you are making several different kinds of food, make the allergy safe foods first
  • Keep the safe allergen free food away and covered from the other food. 
  • Always use utensils, pans, and cutting boards that have been washed with soap and water. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after handling a food allergen.

Sources: Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), EatRight.org, FoodAllergy.org

This post was last updated on December 17th, 2019 at 4:36 PM

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.