The Most Frequent Meals Allergy symptoms – Cleveland Clinic


Greater than 90% of allergic reactions could be linked to those meals

Think about beginning each meal, each snack and each little hunger-driven nibble questioning if one chew of the flawed meals may damage or kill you. That’s a day by day actuality for anybody residing with meals allergic reactions.

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9 meals specifically account for greater than 90% of significant allergic reactions like anaphylaxis. The checklist contains milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybean and sesame.

In the USA, these allergens should be particularly declared on meals ingredient labels. Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at these widespread meals allergens with allergist Jaclyn Bjelac, MD.

Figuring out main meals allergens


Meals allergic reactions noticed a dramatic rise starting within the early Nineteen Nineties. The variety of instances skyrocketed a lot that researchers declared meals allergic reactions an epidemic. Managing allergic reactions — and understanding the right way to keep away from allergens — grew to become a precedence.

“The perfect protection in opposition to a meals allergy is avoidance,” says Dr. Bjelac. “However to keep away from a meals, it’s a must to know the place it’s.”

Lawmakers in the USA handed the Meals Allergen Labeling and Client Safety Act of 2004. It recognized eight meals as main allergens and set labeling and manufacturing necessities to higher assist folks keep away from these allergens.

Laws in 2021 added a ninth meals to the key allergens membership. Labeling legal guidelines concerning sesame took impact on January 1, 2023.

Right here’s why every allergen earned a spot on the checklist.


Bought milk? The reply is a particular NO for an estimated 6.1 million People with a milk allergy.

An allergy to cow’s milk protein is the most typical meals allergy in infants and younger kids. Between 2% and 6% of kids could also be allergic to cow’s milk, in keeping with some analysis estimates.

A milk allergy makes all dairy merchandise off-limits, too. Which means no butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt … nicely, you get the image.

“It may be extraordinarily limiting and in addition very isolating,” notes Dr. Bjelac. “Think about being a child and never having the ability to have cake or ice cream at a party. It may make for some difficult experiences.”

The excellent news? Most youngsters outgrow a milk allergy, usually inside a couple of years.


Milk allergy vs. lactose intolerance

It needs to be famous that having a milk allergy is totally different from being lactose illiberal — and doubtlessly way more harmful.

A meals allergy triggers an overreaction out of your immune system, explains Dr. Bjelac. When you’ve got a milk allergy and devour milk, signs can vary from delicate (rashes and hives) to lethal (swelling that closes your airway).

However in the event you’re lactose illiberal, you’re coping with a digestive difficulty. Mainly, your physique is lacking an enzyme that enables it to digest lactose, or the sugar in milk and dairy. That may result in nausea, gasoline and diarrhea in the event you devour milk, nevertheless it isn’t life-threatening.

Study extra concerning the variations between a meals allergy and meals intolerance from a registered dietitian.


Avoiding eggs when you have an egg allergy could be troublesome. Certain, it’s simple to avoid an precise egg. (They’re fairly simple to identify, in spite of everything.) The difficulty is when eggs go into ensuring meals.

Eggs can typically be present in bread, waffles, pasta, pretzels, marshmallows … even specialty drinks. “Egg tends to cover in meals,” says Dr. Bjelac. “Typically, you simply can’t inform that it’s there — which provides a particular diploma of issue once you’re attempting to remain secure.”

However typically, folks with an egg allergy can tolerate eggs in the event that they’re baked into meals. (Cake, for instance.) It’s greatest to seek the advice of along with your allergist on this.

Like milk allergic reactions, egg allergic reactions are extra widespread in kids and are sometimes outgrown. Study extra about the right way to detect meals allergic reactions in kids.


Peanut allergic reactions seize numerous consideration. It’s simple to grasp why.

Violent reactions to peanuts result in extra emergency room visits for food-induced anaphylaxis than another meals, analysis reveals. It’s the third-most widespread meals allergy alongside kids and adults.


About 1 in 5 kids with peanut allergic reactions at present outgrow the situation. There’s hope that new remedy approaches might enhance these numbers, says Dr. Bjelac.

Tree nuts

So, why does this checklist embrace peanuts and tree nuts? As a result of they’re utterly totally different regardless of sharing the nutty identify.

Peanuts are literally a legume grown underground, making them a cousin of beans or peas. Tree nuts, however, are precisely what you’d assume given the identify: They’re nuts that develop on timber.

Frequent examples of tree nuts embrace walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews and pistachios, explains Dr. Bjelac. U.S. meals labeling legal guidelines identify 18 tree nuts that should be recognized on merchandise.

It’s factor, too, as a result of tree nuts can pop up in some fairly uncommon locations. (BBQ sauce, for instance.)

Reactions to tree nuts are the second-most widespread purpose for an ER journey associated to a meals allergy. Allergy symptoms to tree nuts are typically lifelong, although a small proportion of kids outgrow the allergy.


The most typical meals allergen comes from the seafood part.

Shellfish allergic reactions are the highest meals allergy for adults and the general inhabitants. Folks could be allergic to crustaceans (reminiscent of shrimp, crab and lobster) or mollusks (like clams, oysters, scallops, snails and octopus).

Many individuals be taught they’re allergic to shellfish as an grownup when diets change into a bit extra adventurous. (“I don’t know what number of 2-year-olds are going for the shrimp tray at events,” notes Dr. Bjelac.)

Allergy symptoms to shellfish are typically lifelong.


In the event you’re allergic to fish, odds are you’re allergic to all fish. “Most finfish have very comparable allergenic proteins, so in the event you’re allergic to 1, it’s very seemingly that you’d be allergic to others,” clarifies Dr. Bjelac.

So, whereas tuna, salmon, cod and catfish mostly set off allergic reactions, nearly any of the 20,000 species of fish swimming round on Earth can most likely do the identical.

Like shellfish, most be taught that they’re allergic to fish as adults.

However whereas fish and shellfish each fall within the seafood class of the menu, they’re extraordinarily totally different biologically. So, you could be allergic to fish however not shellfish, and vice versa, provides Dr. Bjelac.



A wheat allergy is one other instance of a meals allergy that’s extra widespread amongst youthful kids earlier than disappearing with age.

However whereas it’s current, it may complicate life. Wheat is fairly standard, in spite of everything. The world’s farmers develop virtually 800 million metric tons of the grain yearly. It’s secure to say it leads to numerous totally different meals.

A wheat allergy is totally different from celiac illness and gluten intolerance, also referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). (Study extra as a gastroenterologist breaks down each of the circumstances.)

“As with different meals allergens, remedy for wheat allergy is strictly avoiding it,” states Dr. Bjelac.

The excellent news? With the expansion in wheat-related well being points, there was an inflow in wheat options that weren’t extensively out there a decade in the past. Lean on different grains reminiscent of amaranth, corn, oats, quinoa or rye.


Soybean allergic reactions are extra typical throughout childhood and sometimes go hand-in-hand with different meals allergic reactions, notably peanuts. One examine discovered that 88% of kids with a soy allergy additionally had a peanut allergy. (Each are legumes.)

Avoidance of soybeans could be troublesome given how usually they find yourself in processed meals. However many individuals with a soy allergy can tolerate merchandise containing soy lecithin, says Dr. Bjelac.

Speak along with your allergist to find out what, if any, soy merchandise is perhaps OK to eat.

“An allergist can work with you to securely decide what ought to or shouldn’t be restricted in relation to soy,” she says. “Having the ability to add in sure parts could be actually empowering to sufferers and their households.”


Sesame has grown into a number one reason for food-induced anaphylaxis around the globe, a indisputable fact that earned it a designation as a serious allergen.

It’s not only a matter of avoiding easy-to-spot sesame seed buns, both. Sesame is a standard ingredient in lots of ready meals. (Hummus, as an illustration.) It may be utilized in many kinds, too, together with flour, oil, paste and salt.

U.S. legal guidelines requiring sesame to be clearly famous on meals labels started in 2023. Remember that packaged meals manufactured in 2022 or earlier might comprise unidentified sesame. “That’s one thing folks managing a sesame allergy must navigate for some time,” Dr. Bjelac notes.

Closing ideas on meals allergens

Whereas the 9 meals listed above are the most typical causes of allergic reactions, they’re removed from the one meals that may begin hassle. In reality, greater than 170 meals have been recognized as allergens.

“It’s unlucky we’re seeing meals allergy prevalence growing,” says Dr. Bjelac. “However fortunately, that has introduced an elevated consciousness and understanding about what it means to have a meals allergy. That’s a giant step towards serving to folks handle it.”

When you’ve got a meals allergy, Dr. Bjelac advises you to learn each label, each time, to make sure meals is secure. All the time carry your prescribed epinephrine auto-injector to manage medication in case of an allergic response, too.