Avoiding food allergens
Did you know that you could have an allergic reaction to sesame? (Watch out for hummus dips). How about corn – variations and derivatives of which are in dozens of foods and non-food items?
How to check the labels
Because many foods have multiple ingredients, it’s important to read the ingredient list carefully, and understand that allergens may appear under different names. For example, egg white is also known as albumen.Under EU law, food manufacturers must clearly label common allergens on product packaging – in bold; in contrasting colours or underlined – with allergen advice statements explaining how to find this information.
Alongside egg allergy and nut, fish, and shellfish allergies, common food allergens include soya, sesame, celery, and mustard. Where it is not obvious that an ingredient contains an allergen, this must be pointed out – such as tofu, which contains soya, or tahini paste, which contains sesame.
Labels must also indicate any risk of cross-contamination – for instance, if a product not containing allergens has been produced in a factory where allergens may be present.
Labelling regulations and standards in countries outside the EU may vary. When you’re travelling, it’s a good idea to carry allergy translation cards or an app that can help you to identify allergens in different languages and explain your restrictions in restaurants.