When you have a food allergy, it is important that you practice avoidance to make sure that you do not have any severe allergic reactions. One of the most important things that you can do to protect yourself against food allergens is to read food labels, yet this is a bit different than monitoring carbs and fat content. Below is what you need to know about reading food labels for allergens.
Always Read the Label
Check every food label every time. You never know what might be included in a processed or packaged food. Even if you have been purchasing a particular food for a long period of time, it is necessary to check the label each time you buy the food. Manufacturers sometimes make minor adjustments to ingredients without changing the packaging, but this will be noted on the ingredient label.
The “Contains” Statement
Many foods, although not all, have a “contains” statement on the package. This statement is voluntary, but if used must list allergens in plain language. There are eight allergens that manufacturers have to make plain on their labels, even if they do not use a “contains” statement. These eight allergens are:
- Cow’s milk
- Chicken eggs
- Tree nuts
If your food allergy is related to one of these eight allergens, you will have a much easier time reading food labels. However, if your food allergy is not on this list, you will need to check the ingredients list carefully.
Often allergens are referred to in ingredient lists by their technical name. When this happens, it can be very difficult to know if a food contains your allergens. Ask your doctor about the technical names for your food allergies. If you are ever in doubt, contact the manufacturer and ask them if it contains your allergen. This is sometimes necessary if a food lists “natural flavors” or other vague language.
If there is a food to which you have an allergic reaction and you aren’t sure why, allergy testing can help determine the cause. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.