Food Allergy Overview

Introduction:

Recently, the National Restaurant Association shifted their focus to a growing area of food safety concern: Food Allergies. The CDC reports that the number of people with food allergies increased 18% between 2000 and 2010. It's especially pertinent to address this issue at your foodservice business so diners can feel comfortable eating food outside of their own kitchens. In fact, ServSafe reports that half the fatal episodes from food allergens occur outside the home.

You might wonder: Is my restaurant legally obligated to accommodate customers with food allergies? How do I ensure the safety of diners with life threatening allergies? What are the most common food allergens? We cover all of that - and more - in this comprehensive Food Allergy Management series for Restaurants, School Foodservice, and Food Suppliers.

It's important to note that legal requirements for food allergy management differ between restaurants, school foodservice, and food suppliers whose labeling is regulated by the FDA. We've made it easy to keep up to code with three sections to choose from. Don't forget to browse our wide selection of foodservice products designed specifically for cooking with common food allergens.

For Restaurants

For Food Product Suppliers

For School Foodservice

Food Safe Products

Know the “Big Eight”

Did you know that eight types of foods account for 90% of all food-allergy reactions? These are known as the “Big Eight.” Familiarize your staff with these common allergy-inducing triggers. You can even print our graphic below for a handy reference to hang up in your kitchen!

The “Big Eight” allergens include: Cow's milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and macadamia nuts), Fish, Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, & shrimp), Soybeans, and Wheat. Sesame is widely considered to be the ninth common allergen.

Top Eight Food Allergens

Reading Labels: The Basics

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires that any food regulated by the FDA be labeled in a specific way to identify any of the “Big Eight” allergens. This makes it easy for your foodservice staff to quickly identify common allergens in your ingredient stock. For an easy breakdown of what to look for on labels, view FARE's How to Read A Label info sheet. If you're a food supplier whose products are regulated by the FDA, jump to our "For Food Suppliers" article for a summary of FALCPA requirements that apply to your business.

Aside from the obvious (i.e., peanuts in peanut butter and gluten in pasta), there are many unexpected sources of food allergens. Did you know that the allergen wheat can be found in soy sauce? Or that tree nut extract can be found in alcohol? Here's a list of "hidden" ingredients that may surprise both you and your customers.

Peanuts

Peanuts can be present in the following:

Artificial nuts
Baked goods
Beer nuts
Candy (including chocolate candy)
Cold pressed, expeller pressed or extruded peanut oil
Ground nuts
Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavoring)
Mixed nuts
Nut meat
Nut pieces
Peanut butter
Peanut flour
Peanut protein hydrolysate

Unexpected peanut sources:

African, Asian and Mexican dishes
Chili
Egg rolls
Foods that contain extruded, cold-pressed or expelled peanut oil, which may contain peanut protein
Glazes and marinades
Nougat
Pancakes
Sauces such as chili, enchilada, hot, pesto, gravy, mole sauce and salad dressing
Specialty pizzas
Vegetarian food products advertised as meat substitutes


Tree Nuts

Tree Nuts can be present in the following:

Almond
Artificial nuts
Brazil nut
Beechnut
Butternut
Cashew
Chestnut
Chinquapin nut (also spelled chinkapin)
Coconut
Filbert/hazelnut
Gianduja (a chocolate-nut mixture)
Ginkgo nut
Hickory nut
Litchi/lichee/lychee nut
Macadamia nut
Marzipan/almond paste
Nangai nut (also known as canarium nut)
Natural nut extract (e.g., almond, walnut)
Nut butters (e.g., cashew butter)
Nut extracts, distillates, oils, and alcoholic extracts
Nut meal
Nut meat
Nut paste (e.g., almond paste)
Nut pieces
Pecan
Pesto
Pili nut
Pine nut (also known as Indian, pignoli, pigñolia, pignon, piñon, and pinyon nut)
Pistachio
Praline
Shea nut
Walnut
Walnut hull extract (flavoring)

Unexpected tree nut sources:

African, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants
Bakeries
Candy (including chocolate)
Cereals
Cookies
Crackers
Energy bars
Flavored coffee
Ice Cream parlors
Marinades and BBQ sauce
Mortadella (Italian sausage)
Some alcoholic extracts


Milk

Milk can be present in the following:

Butter, butter fat, butter oil, butter acid, butter ester(s)
Buttermilk
Casein, Casein hydrolysate, Caseinates (in all forms)
Cheese
Cottage cheese
Cream
Curds
Custard
Diacetyl (artificial butter flavor)
Ghee
Half-and-half
Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate
Llactoferrin
Lactose
Lactulose
Milk (in all forms, including condensed, derivative, dry, evaporated, goat's milk and milk from other animals, low-fat, malted, milk fat, nonfat, powder, protein, skimmed, solids, whole)
Milk protein hydrolysate
Pudding
Rennet casein
Sour cream, sour cream solids
Sour milk solids
Tagatose (sweetener)
Whey (in all forms)
Whey protein hydrolysate
Yogurt

Unexpected milk sources:

Artificial butter flavor
Baked goods
Caramel candies
Chocolate
Lactic acid starter culture and other bacterial cultures
Lunchmeat, hot dogs, sausages
Margarine
Nisin (food preservative)
Nondairy products (many contain casein)
Nougat
Shellfish (dipped in milk to reduce odor)
Steaks (restaurants put butter on steaks for extra flavor)


Eggs

Eggs can be present in the following:

Albumin (also spelled albumen)
Baked goods
Egg (dried, powdered, solids, white, yolk)
Eggnog
Egg substitutes
Lecithin
Lysozyme (a food preservative)
Macaroni
Marzipan
Marshmallows
Mayonnaise
Meringue (meringue powder)
Nougat
Pasta
Ovalbumin
Surimi

Unexpected egg sources:

Foam or topping on specialty coffee and bar drinks
Egg wash is sometimes used on pretzels prior to dipping in salt
Eggs from duck, turkey, goose, quail, etc. are known to be cross reactive with chicken egg


Wheat

Wheat can be present in the following:

Bread crumbs
Bulgur (cereal)
Cereal extract
Club wheat
Couscous
Cracker meal
Durum
Einkorn
Emmer
Farina
Farro
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 khorasan wheat
Matzoh, matzoh meal (also spelled 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

Unexpected wheat sources:

Ale
Baked products
Batter-fried foods
Beer
Cereals
Candy
Crackers
Glucose syrup
Ice cream
Imitation crab meat
Marinara sauce
Potato chips
Processed meats
Salad dressing
Sauces
Soup
Soy sauce
Starch (gelatinized, modified, vegetable)
Surimi


Soy

Soy can be present in the following:

Asian cuisine
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

Unexpected soy sources:

Baked goods
Canned meat and tuna
Cereals
Cookies & crackers
High-protein energy bars
Low-fat peanut butter
Processed meat
Sauces
Canned broths and soups
Vegetable gum
Vegetable starch
Vegetable broth


Fish

Fish can be present in the following:


*There are an estimated 20,000 species of fish. Allergic reactions have been commonly associated with:

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

Unexpected fish sources:

African, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants
Barbecue sauce
Caesar salad and Caesar dressing
Caponata (Sicilian eggplant relish)
Imitation or artificial fish or shellfish
Meatloaf
Worcestershire sauce
Fish protein can become airborne in steam released during cooking


Shellfish

Shellfish can be present in the following:

Abalone (sea snails)
Bouillabaisse (fish stew)
Clams (cherrystone, geoduck, littleneck, pismo, quahog)
Cockle
Cuttlefish and cuttlefish ink
Fish stock
Limpet (lapas, opihi)
Mussels
Octopus
Oysters
Periwinkle
Sea cucumber
Seafood flavoring (including crab or clam extract)
Sea urchin
Scallops
Snails (escargot)
Squid (calamari)
Surimi
Whelk (Turban shell)

Unexpected Shellfish Sources:

Asian dishes often use fish sauce as a flavoring base
Shellfish protein can become airborne in steam released during cooking


Related resources:

 

Food Allergy For Restaurants

Food Allergy For Suppliers

Food Allergy For School Foodservice

Food Allergy Safety Products