Did you know that some of the most common allergens can hide in places you would never suspect? Hidden food allergens can be very dangerous for people with severe reactions, so it’s important to always be on the lookout for these elusive hazards. According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, there are 8 allergens that must be listed by law on commercial, packaged foods: peanut, tree nuts, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Sesame will be added in 2023. Foods sold at markets or other non-commercial sites may not contain this information. In this post, we’ll review some of the most common hidden allergens and how they stay so sneaky:
Sesame seed will be added as the 9th mandatory reportable allergen on packaged food labels on January 1, 2023. Until then, people who are allergic to sesame seeds need to examine all ingredient labels to look for sesame products. Companies often use other ingredient names that do not make it clear that the ingredient is a sesame derivative such as tahini, benne seed, gomasio, semolina, and others.
Peanuts can cause very serious reactions in people who are allergic. Peanuts and peanut-containing products hide in many foods and products you probably encounter daily, including candies, sauces, trail mixes, ice creams, and dog treats! It is important to scrutinize nutrition labels when purchasing foods for someone who is allergic to peanuts. Highly refined peanut oil is generally considered safe, as it does not contain the proteins that cause allergic reactions, but be sure to discuss any concerns with your allergist.
Tree nuts hide in many of the same places as peanuts. Since tree nut allergies can be to a wide variety of nuts, even more foods must be scrutinized, even down to salad dressings and extracts commonly used for baking. Tree nuts may be listed in ingredients such as Anacardium nuts, filberts (hazelnuts), nut meats, pinon, or Queensland nut (macadamia). Like peanuts, tree nuts must be reported on packaged food labels.
As many as 2 in every 100 children in the U.S. have some sort of dairy intolerance, and it’s even higher for infants. While most people outgrow their milk and dairy allergies as they age, many do not, and some may deal with life-threatening dairy allergies their entire lives. If you have a dairy allergy, avoiding the obvious offenders like milk, yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream definitely helps, but there are many other foods like butter, salad dressing, candies, battered foods, some potatoes, ghee, egg substitutes, baked goods, soups, and drink mixes that can also contain dairy ingredients. Some ingredients to be on the lookout for include:
- casein, rennet casein-caseinate (ammonium caseinate, magnesium caseinate, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, potassium caseinate)
- delactosed or demineralized whey
- whey and whey protein concentrate
- dry milk, milk solids
- hydrolyzed casein, hydrolyzed milk protein
- lactalbumin and lactalbumin phosphate
- lactoferrin, lactoglobulin
- milk derivative, fat, and protein
- modified milk ingredients
In addition, there is cross-reactivity between cow’s milk and other mammalian milks, like those from goats or sheep. Cow’s milk is a mandatory reportable allergen on packed food labels.
Bread, pasta, candies, baked goods, sauces, crafting products, beauty products, and even vaccines can all contain eggs or egg derivatives. Egg must be listed as an allergen on packed food labels, and other names for egg in ingredient lists include albumin/albumen-conalbumin-globulin, livetin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovotransferrin, silico-albuminate, and vitellin. Most patients with egg allergy can safely take vaccines, including the seasonal influenza vaccine. Talk to your allergist if you have any concerns.
Fish and shellfish are both common allergy triggers and are also present in tons of different foods and non-food products, like gelatin, marshmallows, pizza, salad dressings, sauces, deli meats, lip balm/gloss, pet foods, and some supplements. Kamaboko is an ingredient to look out for on labels for people with fish or shellfish allergies. Fish and crustacean shellfish are both mandatory reportable allergens on packed food labels.
Allergy Treatment in Tampa Bay
If you suffer from any of these or any other allergies and live in Tampa Bay, look no further than the expert team at Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay. We offer a full array of testing and treatment for all types of allergies. Call us at (813) 971-9743 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today!