How To Read Labels So You Can Avoid Food Allergies

How To Read Labels So You Can Avoid Food Allergies

Some foods can cause allergic reactions in a small percentage of the population. Today, about 2% of adults and 3-7% of children have food allergies.

Food allergies occur when a person sensitive to a food eats or comes in contact with it or another food that contains it. Therefore allergic people should try to avoid consuming these foods at all costs. For people with allergies, it is imperative to be careful with the food they eat and to look carefully at all kinds of food labels to ensure that they do not contain any allergen that could affect them.

Where Do We Find This Information?

On packaged foods, allergen information appears in the ingredient list, standing out from the rest by font, style, or background colour. In the absence of a list of ingredients, the mention “contains” is included, followed by the allergen.

On some occasions, we can also find mentions such as “may contain x allergen,” which indicates a possible unintentional and unavoidable presence of an allergen, such as cross-contamination.

In unpackaged foods, we can also find this information through food labels attached to the product (if it has been packaged), labels on signs placed where the food is sold, or by other appropriate means such as a menu or oral information before the purchase is finalized.

List of Allergens

The common 14 allergens that  must be declared when used as ingredients; are:

  • Cereals containing gluten: wheat, rye, barley, oats, and products derived from them.
  • Crustaceans and crustacean-based products
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Fish and fish products
  • Peanuts and peanut-based products
  • Soy and soy-based products
  • Milk and its derivatives (including lactose)
  • Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and derived products
  • Celery and derived products
  • Mustard and derived products
  • Sesame seeds and products made from sesame seeds
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (only from specific concentrations)
  • Lupins and products based on lupins
  • Mollusks and mollusc-based products

Some people are allergic to other foods, such as some fruits (peach) or legumes (chickpeas, peas), so it is very important to read the entire list of ingredients two carefully.

Take the time to learn more about your allergy and the food sources of such allergens. Food allergies can show up in strange places and go by less well-known names. You’ll be a better detective if you know everything about your allergy. Here are some ideas for how to stay away from your allergen.

If you aren’t sure if a product has been in contact with your allergens, call the company that made it. Find out what goes into the products and how they are made.

If You Find A Product That Doesn’t List What’s In It, Don’t Buy It.

Imported items should be handled with extreme caution. Food labelling rules range from country to country. Imported items are expected to comply with the food labelling standards of that country. However, this is not always the case.

As soon as a child learns to read, they can start looking for allergies on food labels. Practice at home and when shopping with an adult’s supervision.