Common Allergen Information

**Information provided by MayoClinic.com

Dairy

Milk allergy is an abnormal response by the body’s immune system to milk and products containing milk. Cow’s milk is the usual cause of milk allergy, but milk from sheep, goats and buffalo also can cause a reaction. Some children who are allergic to cow’s milk are allergic to soy milk, too. Milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children.

A milk allergy usually occurs minutes to hours after consuming milk. Signs and symptoms of milk allergy range from mild to severe and can include wheezing, vomiting, hives and digestive problems. Rarely, milk allergy can cause anaphylaxis — a severe, life-threatening reaction.

Avoidance is the primary treatment for milk allergy. Fortunately, most children outgrow a milk allergy by age 3.

Commonly found in:

  • Whole milk, low-fat milk, skim milk, buttermilk
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream, gelato
  • Cheese and anything that contains cheese
  • Half-and-half
  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Ingredients spelled with the prefix “lact” — such as lactose and lactate
  • Candies, such as chocolate, nougat and caramel
  • Fat-replacement products, such as Simplesse
  • Protein powders
  • Artificial butter flavor
  • Artificial cheese flavor
  • Hydrosolate

Even if a food is labeled “milk-free” or “nondairy,” it may still contain allergy-causing milk proteins — so you have to read the label carefully. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer to be sure a product doesn’t contain milk ingredients.

Wheat (Gluten)

Wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to foods containing wheat. It’s one of the more common food allergies in children. Wheat can be found in many foods, including some you might never suspect, such as breads, cakes, breakfast cereals, pasta, crackers, beer, soy sauce and condiments, such as ketchup.

Avoiding wheat is the primary treatment for wheat allergy. Medications may be necessary to manage allergic reactions when you accidentally eat wheat.

Wheat allergy may sometimes be confused with celiac disease, but these conditions are different. A wheat allergy generates an allergy-causing antibody to proteins found in wheat. But, one particular protein in wheat — gluten — causes an abnormal immune system reaction in the small intestines of people with celiac disease.

Commonly found in:

  • Breads
  • Cakes and muffins
  • Cookies
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Farina
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Crackers
  • Beer
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Soy sauce
  • Condiments, such as ketchup
  • Meat products, such as hot dogs or cold cuts
  • Dairy products, such as ice cream
  • Natural flavorings
  • Gelatinized starch
  • Modified food starch
  • Vegetable gum
  • Licorice
  • Jelly beans
  • Hard candies

If you have a wheat allergy, you may also be allergic to other grains with similar proteins. These related grains include:

  • Barley
  • Oat
  • Rye

Egg

Eggs are one of the most common allergy-causing foods in children.

Egg allergy symptoms usually occur a few minutes to a few hours after eating eggs or foods containing eggs. Signs and symptoms range from mild to severe and can include skin rashes, hives, nasal inflammation, and vomiting or other digestive problems. Rarely, egg allergy can cause anaphylaxis — a life-threatening reaction.

Egg allergy can occur as early as infancy. Most children outgrow their egg allergy before adolescence. But in some cases, it continues into adulthood.

Commonly found in:

  • Marshmallows
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meringue
  • Baked goods
  • Mixes, batters and sauces
  • Frostings
  • Processed meat, meatloaf and meatballs
  • Pudding
  • Salad dressing
  • Many pastas
  • Root beer and specialty coffee or alcoholic drinks

Several terms indicate that egg products have been used in manufacturing processed foods. Terms that can indicate egg proteins are present include:

  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • Lecithin
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme
  • Simplesse
  • Vitellin
  • Words starting with “ova” or “ovo,” such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin

Soy

Soy, a product of soybeans, is a common food that can cause allergies. In many cases, soy allergy starts with a reaction to a soy-based infant formula. Although most children eventually outgrow a soy allergy, soy allergy may persist into adulthood.

Often, signs and symptoms of soy allergy are mild, such as hives or itching in the mouth. In rare cases, soy allergy can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

If you or your child has a reaction to soy, let your doctor know. Tests can help confirm a soy allergy. If you have a soy allergy, you’ll need to avoid products that contain soy. This can be difficult, however, as soy is common in many foods, such as meat products, bakery goods, chocolate and breakfast cereals.

Soy milk, edamame, tofu and other soy products have become more popular because of their apparent health benefits. Soy may be called any of the following on a product label:

  • Soy
  • Soya
  • Soybeans
  • Glycine max
  • Edamame

But soy is also a common ingredient in other food products, and it’s not always easy to know if a product contains soy. It’s used in meat products and meat substitutes, baked goods, candies, ice creams and desserts, condiments, butter substitutes, and in other foods.

Commonly found in:

  • Tofu
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Tempeh
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Lecithin
  • Monodiglyceride
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vitamin E

Peanut

Peanut allergy is common, especially in children. Peanut allergy symptoms can range from a minor irritation to a life-threatening reaction (anaphylaxis). For some people with peanut allergy, even tiny amounts of peanuts can cause a serious reaction.

If you or your child has had a reaction to peanuts, tell your doctor about it. Peanut allergy is one of the most common causes of severe allergy attacks.

It’s important to get even a minor reaction to peanuts checked out. Even if you or your child has had only a mild allergic reaction in the past, there’s still a risk of a more serious future reaction.

  • Ground or mixed nuts
  • Baked goods, such as cookies and pastries
  • Ice cream and frozen desserts
  • Energy bars
  • Cereals and granola
  • Grain breads
  • Marzipan, a molding confection made of nuts, egg whites and sugar

Less obvious foods may contain peanuts or peanut proteins, either because they were made with them or because they came in contact with them during the manufacturing process. Some examples include:

  • Nougat
  • Salad dressings
  • Chocolate candies, nut butters (such as almond butter) and sunflower seeds
  • Cultural foods including African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese dishes
  • Foods sold in bakeries and ice-cream shops
  • Arachis oil, another name for peanut oil
  • Pet food

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