The Big Eight Allergens
Foodborne illnesses

Food Safety


Many children develop an allergy to eggs, but often outgrow it. Those who are allergic to eggs should be sure to check labels of food products for the following ingredients: “egg,” “egg white,” “dried egg” or “albumin.”


A milk allergy is a potentially deadly allergic reaction to one or more dairy proteins and are most common in young children, who usually develop the condition within the first six months of life. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, studies have shown that 2% to 5% of children develop a milk allergy in the first year of life. Milk allergies are twice as common as egg allergies and three times as common as peanut allergies.


Peanuts can be found in many foods and candies, especially chocolate candy. Check all labels carefully. Once considered a lifelong allergy, recent studies indicate that as many as 20% of children diagnosed with peanut allergy outgrow it. However, for people who do not out grow the allergy, their sensitivity and the severity of their reactions tends to worsen over time. Peanuts can cause severe allergic reactions. If prescribed, carry epinephrine at all times.


These are divided into two basic categories: “Molluscks,” including abalone, oysters, mussels and squid (calamari); and “crustaceans,” include lobsters, crayfish, prawns, crabs and shrimp.


Because soybeans are a major part of most processed foods, avoiding anything made with soybeans can prove very difficult. Those who try to eliminate all foods that include soybeans and byproducts may find themselves eating an unbalanced diet. Consult with a physician or a dietician for advice.

Tree Nuts

These include peanuts that have been de-flavored and re-flavored with a nut, such as pecan or walnut. For example, mandelonas are peanuts soaked in almond flavoring. Tree nuts have been used in many foods, including barbecue sauce, cereals, crackers, and ice cream. Tree nuts can cause severe allergic reactions. Doctors commonly prescribe epinephrine for tree nut allergies, which should be carried at all times.


Wheat contains several types of protein that can activate the immune system in people who have allergic action against wheat. If you have wheat allergy, check labels to be sure that even small amounts of wheat are not present in the list of ingredients. In the ingredients, look for: “wheat,” “flour,” “wheat germ,” “wheat starch,” “bran,” “modified food starch,” “graham flour,” “farina,” “spelt” and “semolina.”