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Food Allergens

Nutrition to Avoid Common Food Allergens

The job of the body’s immune system is to identify and destroy germs (such as bacteria or viruses) that make you sick. A food allergy happens when your immune system overreacts to a harmless food protein—an allergen. One in every 13 people has a food allergy.

In the U.S., the eight most common food allergens are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Sesame is also a common allergen. The following lists will help you avoid specific allergens.


Avoid foods that contain milk or any of these ingredients:

  • Butter, butter fat, butter oil, butter acid, butter ester(s)
  • Buttermilk
  • Casein
  • Casein hydrolysate
  • Caseinates
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Curds
  • Custard
  • Ghee
  • Half-and-half
  • Lactalbumin and lactalbumin phosphate
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactose
  • Milk (in all forms including condensed, derivative, dry, evaporated, goat’s milk and milk from other animals, low-fat, malted, milkfat, non-fat, powder, protein, skimmed, solids, whole)
  • Milk protein hydrolysate
  • Rennet casein
  • Sour cream, sour cream solids
  • Sour milk solids
  • Whey
  • Whey protein hydrolysate


Avoid foods that contain soy or any of these ingredients:

  • Cold-pressed, expelled or extruded soy oil*
  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Shoyu
  • Soy (soy albumin, soy cheese, soy fiber, soy flour, soy grits, soy ice cream, soy milk, soy nuts, soy sprouts, soy yogurt)
  • Soya
  • Soybean (curd, granules)
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soy sauce
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Tofu

*Highly refined soy oil is not required to be labeled as an allergen. Studies show that most people with soy allergy can safely eat highly refined soy oil as well as soy lecithin. If you are allergic to soy, ask your doctor whether you need to avoid soy oil or soy lecithin.


Avoid foods that contain eggs or any of these ingredients:

  • Albumin (also spelled albumen)
  • Egg (dried, powdered, solids, white, yolk)
  • Eggnog
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meringue (meringue powder)
  • Ovalbumin
  • Surimi


Avoid foods that contain wheat or any of these ingredients:

    • Bulgur
    • Couscous
    • Durum
    • Farina
    • Flour (all-purpose, bread, cake, durum, enriched, graham, high-gluten, high-protein, instant, pastry, self-rising, soft wheat, steel ground, stone ground, whole wheat)
    • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
    • Kamut®
    • Matzoh, matzoh meal (also spelled as matzo, matzah or matza)
    • Pasta
    • Seitan
    • Semolina
    • Spelt
    • Sprouted wheat
    • Triticale
    • Vital wheat gluten
    • Wheat (bran, durum, germ, gluten, grass, malt, sprouts, starch)
    • Wheat bran hydrolysate
    • Wheat germ oil
    • Wheat grass
    • Wheat protein isolate
    • Whole wheat berries

    *Buckwheat is not related to wheat and is considered safe to eat.


    Avoid foods that contain peanuts or any of these ingredients:

    • Arachis oil (another name for peanut oil)
    • Beer nuts
    • Cold-pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil*
    • Lupin (or lupine)—which is becoming a common flour substitute in gluten-free food. A study showed a strong possibility of cross-reaction between peanuts and this legume, unlike other legumes.
    • Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavoring)
    • Nut meat
    • Nut pieces
    • Peanut butter
    • Peanut flour
    • Peanut protein hydrolysate


    Avoid foods that contain treenuts or any of these ingredients:

        • Almond
        • Artificial nuts
        • Beechnut
        • Black walnut hull extract (flavoring)
        • Brazil nut
        • Butternut
        • Cashew
        • Chestnut
        • Chinquapin nut
        • Coconut
        • Filbert/hazelnut
        • Gianduja (a chocolate-nut mixture)
        • Ginkgo nut
        • Hickory nut
        • Litchi/lichee/lychee nut
        • Macadamia nut
        • Marzipan/almond paste
        • Natural nut extract (e.g., almond, walnut—although artificial extracts are generally safe)
        • Nut butters (e.g., cashew butter)
        • Nut distillates/alcoholic extracts
        • Nut meal
        • Nut meat
        • Nut milk (e.g., almond milk, cashew milk)
        • Nut oils (e.g., walnut oil, almond oil)
        • Nut paste (e.g., almond paste)
        • Nut pieces
        • Pecan
        • Pesto
        • Pine nut
        • Pistachio
        • Praline
        • Shea nut
        • Walnut
        • Walnut hull extract (flavoring)


        There are more than 20,000 species of fish. Although this is not a complete list, allergic reactions have been commonly reported to:

        • Anchovies
        • Bass
        • Catfish
        • Cod
        • Flounder
        • Grouper
        • Haddock
        • Hake
        • Halibut
        • Herring
        • Mahi mahi
        • Perch
        • Pike
        • Pollock
        • Salmon
        • Scrod
        • Sole
        • Snapper
        • Swordfish
        • Tilapia
        • Trout
        • Tuna

        Also avoid these fish products:

        • Fish gelatin, made from the skin and bones of fish
        • Fish oil
        • Fish sticks (some people make the mistake of thinking these don’t contain real fish)


        Avoid foods that contain shellfish or any of these ingredients:

        Avoid foods that contain shellfish or any of these ingredients:

        • Crab
        • Crawfish (crawdad, crayfish, ecrevisse)
        • Krill
        • Lobster
        • Prawns
        • Shrimp

        Your registered dietitian or qualified health professional may advise you to also avoid mollusks* or
        these ingredients:

        • Clams
        • Cuttlefish
        • Mussels
        • Octopus
        • Oysters
        • Sea cucumber
        • Sea urchin
        • Scallops
        • Snails (escargot)
        • Squid (calamari)

        *The federal government does not require mollusks to be fully disclosed on product labels.


            Avoid foods that contain sesame or any of these ingredients:

            • Sesame flour
            • Sesame oil
            • Sesame paste
            • Sesame salt
            • Sesame seed
            • Tahini, Tahina, Tehina
            Always read food labels and ask questions if you’re ever unsure about an item’s ingredients.

            This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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