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The Top 8 Food Allergens

Any food can produce an allergic reaction, but there are some foods that are more common allergens than others.

The eight allergens which account for 90 percent of all documented food allergies are:
• Milk – A milk allergy is an immune reaction to milk proteins. The 2 parts of milk that contain the most allergenic proteins are casein and whey.

• Eggs – An egg allergy is an immune reaction to egg proteins. Eggs contain many proteins that can be allergenic. It is a common allergy in children and can cause an anaphylactic reaction. Some people may be allergic to only the egg yolk or only the egg whites, but if the allergy is severe, the entire egg must be avoided because of the risk of contamination from one part of the egg to the other.

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• Peanuts – A peanut allergy is an immune reaction to peanut protein. Peanuts are a legume and are not related to tree nuts. Peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis.

• Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts) – A nut allergy is an immune reaction to that nut’s protein. Each species of nut has different allergenic potential in each person, so a person could be allergic to one type of tree nut, but not to another. However, because of the risk of cross-contamination from one to another in processing and packaging, it is best to avoid all tree nuts if allergic to one.

• Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder) – A fish allergy is an immune reaction to proteins of a certain type of fish. It is not clear whether a person who reacts to a specific type of fish will react to all fish of that species or even to all fish. It is recommended that if you have a risk of anaphylactic reaction, avoid all fish.

• Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp) – A shellfish allergy is an immune reaction to shellfish proteins. It is recommended that if you are allergic to one type of shellfish, that you avoid all shellfish.

• Soy – A soy allergy is an immune reaction to soy protein. Soy beans are legumes. Soy is rarely a cause of anaphylaxis, but can cause many other symptoms.

• Wheat – A wheat allergy is an immune reaction to wheat proteins. Wheat is rarely a cause of anaphylaxis, but can cause many other symptoms.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), mandates that foods labeled on or after January 2006 must declare these 8 allergens in plain language either on the ingredient list or by using the word “Contains” followed by the name of the major food allergen.

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