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The 8 Most Common Food Allergens

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Up to 35% of adults in US suffer from an allergy – this is the result of a statistical study¹ published in 2022.

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However, more than half of them have food allergies – often to quite common foods.

The most common food allergens are certain proteins in foods that are mistakenly considered harmful by the immune system. The following section provides a list of the most common food allergens that must be declared on packaging.

Nuts


Peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios and hazelnuts all contain components that can act as food allergens.

Statistically, allergy to a single type of nut is the most common – accounting for 0.1 to 4.3% of all food allergies (numbers vary from study to study).

Fruit


The most common allergic reaction is from citrus fruits (especially oranges), apples, and plums, but can also occur with strawberries and other fruits.

wheat


Gluten is a protein component of wheat (and some other grains) that can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

The incidence of gluten allergies varies widely, with estimates generally ranging from 0.5% to 1.3% of all reported food allergies.

Milk


As mentioned earlier, milk allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance – it is often caused by the complex protein casein or beta-lactoglobulin.

There is evidence that milk components act as food allergens in about 0.9% of all food allergies.

Soy


Some people are unable to respond properly to the ingestion of soy protein components, causing allergic reactions.

It is important to note that soy is used in the production of all types of foods, including infant foods. The prevalence of soy allergies is 0.7% of all food allergies.

Shrimp and crustaceans


Note that allergy to the protein tropomyosin, which is a component of the muscle tissue of crustaceans, can be very severe and possibly endanger the life of the affected person.

In many cases, this allergy occurs in adulthood – if you have not eaten shrimp for a long time, you should be especially careful. The prevalence of this allergy is about 0.6% of all food allergies.

Eggs


Chicken egg proteins contain 2 allergenic substances – ovalbumin and lysozyme. Lysozyme is also used as a food preservative and as an ingredient in wine clarification.

In about 0.3% of all food allergies, the above-mentioned ovalbumin and lysozyme are the cause – even if they are used only in small doses (i.e. as an ingredient).

Fish


It is important to distinguish an allergic reaction to fish from an allergic reaction to seafood. In fish, the cause is the low molecular weight protein parvalbumin.

Because fish protein is found in many foods, the allergy cannot be caused by fish alone. Parvalbumin is responsible for up to 0.3% of all food allergies.

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