Food Allergies: Food at Risk

More allergenic foodsAllergizing additives

More allergenic foods

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), in collaboration with the European Commission, has released a list of the most allergenic foods. 90% of food-based allergic reactions are caused by eight foods; let’s see them in detail.

Allergy to eggs

Eggs contain a lot of proteins with a potential allergic effect. Among these, the main ones are three: ovomucoid , ovalbumin and ovotransferrin; only the last two are heat labile and denature with cooking , losing the ability to produce allergic manifestations. Knowing which protein one is sensitized to is therefore essential to set up an adequate exclusion diet. The same allergens present in egg are also contained in meat and in particular in chicken , which can be safely consumed as long as it is cooked. Allergy to eggsit is common in pediatric age (2% of children) but, fortunately, it regresses easily (in 70% of cases it does not exceed the sixteenth year).

Allergy to milk

Cow’s milk protein allergy is the number one cause of food allergy and mainly affects children. It can give rise to very serious reactions, even through the simple inhalation of powdered milk particles . Food allergy can arise as an occupational disease, frequent among people employed in establishments where, for example, powdered milk is processed. In these wards, to avoid sensitization, the use of a mask is mandatory .

Allergy to peanuts

Peanut allergy until a few years ago was a problem restricted to the USA, now it is spreading also in Europe and is becoming one of the main allergies of the child.

Allergy to nuts

Between 25 and 40% of people allergic to peanuts also suffer from adverse reactions to nuts. This despite the fact that they are absolutely different products, since peanuts are the seeds of herbaceous plants belonging to the group of legumes (Genus Fabaceae ) while walnuts constitute the achenes of trees belonging to the Genus Juglas .

Allergy to fish

That to fish products is one of the most frequent food allergies in Scandinavian countries, where cod is “depopulated” . The same argument as for milk applies to the possible professional origin of the disease (the risk is greater for people who work in close contact with food, for example in establishments where fish meal is produced ). In fact, IgA immunoglobulins are present in the intestinesecretory, capable of preventing the systemic absorption of allergens, while the same protection does not exist at the respiratory level (for this reason it is necessary to use masks). If after a fish-based meal you experience problems attributable to food allergies, it is important to carry out a series of diagnostic tests to find out if it is a pesoallergic reaction or a real allergy (many fish contain histaminol-freeing substances or are themselves a source of histamine ).

Allergy to shellfish

Shellfish allergies are very rare. Of particular interest are the reactions to some species of land snails , improperly called “snails”, which occur in subjects sensitive to dermatophagoids.

Allergy to wheat

Wheat flour only exceptionally causes allergic manifestations. Wheat allergy should not be confused with celiac disease , which while involving the immune system , being an autoimmune-based disease represents a totally different disease.

Allergy to soy

Soy is another highly allergenic food; some children who are allergic to cow’s milk also become allergic to soy, as the “milk” obtained by squeezing its seeds is often used as an allergy-free alternative to milk. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that some components of soy, such as lecithin and protein hydrolysates, are widely used as food additives and can therefore make the consumption of the foods to which they are added dangerous.

Other food allergies

Fruits and vegetables : foods such as banana , avocado , chestnut , melon , kiwi , strawberries , can cause allergic reactions. The same is true for certain vegetables such as celery , which is one of the foods most frequently responsible for allergies. In this case, those who are allergic to a fruit must perform precise clinical tests also for fruits belonging to the same botanical family. Some fresh fruits and vegetables are capable of triggering a mild allergic reaction in the mouth, characterized by an annoying itchy feeling in thepalate and throat, which appears on contact with food. This is a typical example of cross-reactivity (or cross-reactivity), the phenomenon according to which different foods can cause similar allergic manifestations because they contain antigens with related amino acid sequences. In particular, the allergens present in some fruits and vegetables are similar to those contained in some pollens. For example, people who are allergic to ragweed can also be allergic to melons, just as people allergic to birch pollen often experience allergic reactions to apples . Seeds : some seeds such as sesame and mustard seeds
, are very widespread and important allergens, especially in some countries of the world.

Incidence of allergies in adults and children

The foods most frequently responsible for food allergy in children are:

  1. Milk
  2. Egg
  3. Peanuts

Note : Babies can spontaneously “recover” from allergic reactions to milk and eggs, while those to peanuts and tree nuts are almost always definitive.
The most common food allergens for adults are:

  1. Pollen, fruits and vegetables ( oral allergy syndrome )
  2. Peanuts and walnuts
  3. Fish and shellfish.

Allergizing additives

What additives can trigger an allergic reaction?

Food additives can also cause allergic or intolerance reactions .


Naturally present in some foods such as dried fruit , berries , oranges , grapes , aromatic herbs , wines and liqueurs, they can cause chronic urticaria .


It is a synthetic dye , indicated on the label with its name or code E102, added to foods to give them a pleasant lemon yellow color . Present in various preparations including various drinks, mayonnaise and puddings, it can cause hives and asthma.

Sulfur dioxide

Always used for the treatment of grapes and musts, it is an additive that can be found in numerous foods including dehydrated fruit , jams , fruit juices , vinegar , fruit salads and salads treated in restaurants with sprays to maintain a fresher appearance. .

Sulphites, metasulfites and bisulfites

They are added to prepackaged products as preservatives or antioxidants and are especially dangerous for asthmatics .
Only carmine red, widely used in the food industry ( aperitifs , ice creams ), cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, has a recognized allergenic power.


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