Foods which cause allergic reactions are allergens, and they
range from mild to severe, although all allergic symptoms should be taken very
Symptoms of a food allergy vary and can affect the skin, the
gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, and even the cardiovascular
system. Typically symptoms appear within minutes of eating the offending food,
but sometimes it can take several hours.
Mild symptoms may include hives, eczema, a redness of the face or eyes, an itchy mouth or ear
canal, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain. However symptoms can be severe, such as respiratory distress.
The top five
common food allergens include:
Common hidden food allergens
avoiding eggs or dairy might seem simple enough at first, it can be a minefield
avoiding your food allergen if you eat out or eat processed foods.
Here are the most
common ways the top five food allergens can be hidden in everyday foods:
Peanuts: Ingredients that
may contain peanuts and should be avoided by those suffering from a peanut
allergy include salad dressings, nougat and marzipan.
Eggs: It is the
whites of the egg which contain the allergy-causing proteins. Egg protein can
often be ‘hidden’ in foods such as baked goods, vaccines, mayonnaise and
Dairy: An allergy to
dairy is very different from being lactose intolerant as it involves the immune
system which reacts adversely to a protein in the milk. Foods to watch out for include
custards, ghee and whey. It is a very common allergy and while it might appear to be easy to
avoid dairy, it can still be found in foods such as coffee creamers, gravies
and peanut butter, all of which may use some form of milk solids. Caseinate is also a form of dairy found in products
such as canned tuna fish, dental chewing gums and even breath mints.
Wheat: Avoiding wheat can prove very challenging asthere are so many products which use it as a binding
or thickening agent. It is different from a gluten allergy, but can be very
severe in some cases. Foods to avoid which may contain wheat include cereal extract, couscous, ice-cream, ready-made
burgers, beer and soy sauce.
Soy: Soybeans are used in most processed foods, which means
it is hidden in virtually everything. These are the most common foods it is
hidden in; Miso, Tofu, vegetable broth, some peanut butters and canned soups.
avoid hidden food allergens
If you have a food allergy, it’s vital to
read all food product labels carefully and make sure you understand the various
names certain allergens can hide behind. If you’re ever in doubt, rather call
the manufacturer before you consume it to be sure.
- Print out a list of all potential food allergens and the
various names they’re hidden under and take it with to the shops to cross-check
- Cook with fresh ingredients.
- Avoid all processed food.
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Healthline: The most common food
allergens; FARE: All about food allergies ; Kids With Food Allergy: What is a food allergy?