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    Common Allergens

    Learn more about the most common allergens: milk allergy, egg allergy, peanut allergy, soy allergy, wheat allergy, tree nut allergy, shellfish allergy, fish allergy, and sesame allergy.


    Allergy to cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in infants and young children. About 2.5 percent of children under age 3 are allergic to milk, and most of these children develop milk allergy in their first year of life.


    Egg allergy is among the most common food allergies in children, but most children who are allergic to egg eventually outgrow their allergy. Most allergenic egg proteins are found in the the egg white, but inviduals with egg allergy should avoid both egg whites and egg yolks.


    Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.), which grow on trees. Peanuts grow underground and are part of a different plant family, the legumes. Other examples of legumes include beans, peas, lentils and soybeans. Being allergic to peanuts does not mean you have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume.


    Soybean allergy is one of the more common food allergies, especially in babies and children. Soybeans are a member of the legume family. Beans, peas, lentils and peanuts are also legumes. Being allergic to soy does not mean you have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume, including peanut.


    Wheat allergy is most common in children and is usually outgrown before adulthood. Two-thirds of children with a wheat allergy outgrow it by age 12. An allergy to wheat is not the same as celiac disease.

    Tree Nut

    Tree nut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children and adults. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio and Brazil nuts. They are not the same as peanuts, which are legumes, or seeds, such as sunflower or sesame.


    Shellfish is one of the more common food allergies. This allergy usually is lifelong. About 60 percent of people with shellfish allergy experience their first allergic reaction as adults. There are two groups of shellfish: crustacea (such as shrimp, crab and lobster) and mollusks (such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops). Crustacea cause most shellfish reactions, and these tend to be severe. Finned fish and shellfish are not related. Being allergic to one does not always mean that you must avoid both.


    Finned fish is one of the most common food allergies. This allergy usually is lifelong. About 40 percent of people with fish allergy experience their first allergic reaction as adults. Salmon, tuna and halibut are the most common types of fish people are allergic to. Finned fish and shellfish are not related. Being allergic to one does not always mean that you must avoid both.


    Sesame is a flowering plant that produces edible seeds. It is a common ingredient in cuisines around the world, from baked goods to sushi. Several reports suggest this allergy has increased significantly worldwide over the past two decades. Current U.S. federal law does not require sesame to be declared by food manufacturers. FARE is advocating federal legislation to add sesame to the list of “major food allergens” that must appear on ingredient labels of processed foods.

    Source : www.foodallergy.org

    Big 8 Food Allergies: Handling Allergens at Your Restaurant

    Help protect patrons at your restaurant from the big 8 food allergens - Learn how to avoid cross-contamination and create a menu that's allergen safe.

    Food Allergy Best Practices for Restaurants

    Last updated on 3/07/2022

    If you run a food service business or cafeteria, you must educate yourself on common food allergens and how to prevent allergic reactions. Studies show that roughly 2% of adults and 5% of infants and young children in the United States suffer from food allergies, and around 30,000 consumers require emergency room treatment for allergic reactions to food each year. Keep reading to learn more about food allergies, allergen labeling, and how to protect your patrons.

    Download a PDF That Breaks Down the Top Eight Food Allergens

    Shop All Allergy Preventing, Color-Coded Kitchen Supplies

    Navigate to the allergen information that interests you with the following links:

    Intro to Food Allergies

    Cross-Contamination Cross-Contact

    The Big 8 Food Allergens

    Allergen-Safe Restaurant Menus

    Allergen-Safe Restaurant Supplies

    FALCPA Compliance

    Allergen-Safe School Foodservice

    Understanding Food Allergies

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the number of individuals with food allergies has continued to rise during the past decade. Additionally, according to ServSafe, half of the fatal episodes from allergic reactions to food occur outside of the home. However, there is currently no legislation stating that restaurants must accommodate customers with food allergies.

    While safely serving patrons with food allergies may seem complicated and risky, there are several ways to earn their trust. Start by understanding specifically what their allergen is and deciding whether your restaurant can safely prepare their meal. It's also essential to ensure proper communication between your front- and back-of-house staff regarding a customer's particular allergy. Finally, you must be knowledgeable about your ingredients and know how to read their labels to detect any known allergens.

    What Is Cross Contamination?

    Cross-contamination is at the root of most foodborne illnesses and is caused when bacteria and other microorganisms contaminate foods during storage and preparation. Unlike cross-contact, in most cases, proper cooking of contaminated food will reduce or eliminate the chances of foodborne illness.

    Here are some of the most important steps you can follow to limit the chances of cross-contamination:

    Keep meat and seafood sealed: Store raw meat and seafood on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator in a sealed container or bag to ensure juices don't drip onto other foods.Keep produce organized: Store washed produce in clean, color-coded storage containers, rather than placing them back into their original packaging.Color code equipment: Use color-coded kitchen equipment when preparing foods. Equipping your kitchen with HACCP color-coded knives and other utensils can help you avoid cross-contamination and ensure proper food handling. For example, green knives can be designated for fresh produce, while red can be designated for raw meat.

    What Is Cross Contact?

    Cross-contact is defined as the transfer of an allergen from food containing the allergen to a food that doesn't contain the allergen. When different foods come into contact with one another, their proteins mix. At that point, each food contains trace amounts of the other food that are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye.

    Important note: Unlike cross-contamination, cooking does eliminate or reduce the likelihood of a person with a food allergy reacting to the contaminated food.

    How to Avoid Cross Contact

    There are many easy ways to avoid cross-contact at your foodservice establishment.

    1. Practice Proper Sanitation

    Ensure your staff is washing, rinsing, and properly sanitizing cookware, utensils, and equipment after they've handled a food allergen. Using soap and water is a must, as simply wiping leftover food from surfaces doesn't completely remove the allergen. Additionally, your prep cooks and chefs should wash their hands and change gloves before coming into contact with known allergens.

    2. Use Separate Equipment

    Your employees should also be using separate equipment to prepare meals for customers with food allergies. This includes fryers, grills, flattops, blenders, and other machines, all of which can become contaminated with leftover allergens when not cleaned properly. This is especially important between shifts, as some breakfast foods cooked with particular equipment may contain allergens that lunch foods cooked with that same piece of equipment do not.

    3. Create a Serving Plan

    Once an allergen-sensitive customer's meal is ready to serve, it's important to have a serving plan in place. Consider using a different colored bowl or plate to designate their meal, and you can also use a colored ticket or food marker to indicate special handling.

    Source : www.webstaurantstore.com

    Food Allergies: How to Cope (for Teens)

    With food allergies, preventing a reaction means avoiding that food entirely. But sometimes allergens can be hidden in places you don't expect. Here are tips on living with a food allergy.

    Food Allergies: How to Cope

    Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD

    Print en español

    Alergias alimentarias: Cómo abordarlas

    If you have a food allergy, your doctor will tell you how to avoid an allergic reaction. Here are some general tips on living with food allergies.

    How Do I Avoid an Allergic Reaction?

    The only real way to prevent a reaction is to completely avoid foods you're allergic to. Eating even a tiny bit of a food you are allergic to can cause a serious reaction.

    Avoiding a food you're allergic to means more than not eating that food. Some people even have to avoid touching or breathing in foods they're allergic to. Sometimes things that aren't food — like cosmetics — may still contain ingredients you're allergic to.

    Here are important ways to avoid coming into contact with foods you may be allergic to:

    1. Read Food Labels

    In the United States, food manufacturers must say on their labels if foods contain any of these most common allergens:


    tree nuts (such as walnuts and cashews)

    shellfish fish wheat milk eggs soy

    Food allergy information will be on the label in one of two ways:

    The food will show up in the list of ingredients.

    There will be an alert somewhere on the label (e.g., "contains peanuts" or "contains shellfish").

    Foods sold in the United States are supposed to label foods clearly so people with common allergies can stay safe. But not all allergens will be included in ingredient lists or named in a recognizable way. This is often the case with allergens other than the eight most common ones. Sometimes, an allergen could be hidden in a long list of scientific-sounding ingredients or included in "natural flavors," "coloring," "spices," or other additives.

    Products sometimes change ingredients, and different size versions of the same product may have different ingredients, so check every package every time.

    2. Know About Cross-Contamination

    One thing that might not show up on a label is cross-contamination risk. Cross-contamination happens when a food you are not allergic to comes in contact with a food you are allergic to. This can happen if a manufacturer uses the same equipment to grind lots of different foods, for example.

    Some companies put statements on their labels to alert customers to the risk of cross-contamination — messages like: "May contain peanuts," "Processed in a facility that also processes nuts," or "Manufactured on equipment also used for shellfish." You'll want to avoid products that have these kinds of alerts about foods you're allergic to.

    But companies are not required to put cross-contamination alerts on a food label. So it's best to contact the company to see if a product might have come in contact with a food you are allergic to. You may be able to get this information from a company website. If not, contact the company and ask.

    How Can I Stay Safe When Eating Away From Home?

    Restaurants, cafeterias, and food courts are getting better about preparing foods for people with allergies. But cross-contamination is still a risk when you dine out: Foods you're allergic to can get into your food when kitchen staff use the same surfaces, utensils, or oil to prepare different foods.

    When you're not at home, ask what's in a food you're thinking of eating. Find out how the food is cooked. Many people find it's best to bring safe food from home or eat at home before heading out. If friends you're visiting or eating with don't know about your allergy, tell them in plenty of time so they can prepare. Don't share a drink or eating utensils with friends if they're eating foods you're allergic to, and avoid tasting any of their food.

    You also can carry a personalized "chef card." It details your allergies and helps restaurant staff understand how to prepare a safe meal for you. You can find chef cards in many different languages on food allergy websites (like FARE, the Food Allergy Research and Education). If the manager or owner of a restaurant seems uncomfortable about your request for safe food preparation, don't eat there.

    It may be best to avoid some types of restaurants:

    If you have a peanut or tree nut allergy, you may want to avoid places that use lots of peanuts, peanut oil, or tree nuts in their foods. If you have a fish or shellfish allergy, you may need to avoid places with open stovetops or steam tables where fish or shellfish is cooked.

    Buffets and salad bars can be risky since people might move serving spoons and other utensils from one food to another.

    Be careful in bakeries, ice cream parlors, or candy shops. The risk of cross-contamination from shared scoops or machinery is high.

    When eating at restaurants, avoid fried foods. Many places cook multiple foods in the same oil.

    What If I Have an Allergic Reaction?

    Always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors with you in case of a reaction. This way you are prepared to treat a serious reaction. Your doctor will give you an allergy action plan so that you know when you should use your epinephrine. Talk to your friends about your allergy, and make sure they know where to find your epinephrine in case you need it.

    Always tell an adult if you are having symptoms of a reaction — even if they are mild. The adult can help you follow your allergy action plan to treat any reactions. Sometimes serious reactions start with mild symptoms.

    Source : kidshealth.org

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