March – Articles of Interest

Well this has been a weird month! Our family are in week 4 of self isolation as we were unlucky enough to get the COVID-19 virus early before the UK schools shut down. We are in our second week of attempting to home school a 10 and 8 year old as well as hold down a couple of jobs. We are exhausted, but have all recovered well from the virus (including the 10 year old with asthma).

I hope you are coping as best you can wherever you are in the world.

I haven’t had an in depth look at the published articles this month as I am multi-multi-tasking, but thought I would get them out there as something different for you to read. I guess that some of you, like me, have spent way too much time looking at articles about the pandemic and need a break from it.

Here is what caught my eye from last month.

If you spot an article or research that you think would interest me you can message my Facebook page or tag me in a Tweet.


February – Articles of Interest

Cetirizine use in childhood: an update of a friendly 30-year drug. This is the antihistamine my daughter uses on a regular basis during pollen season, so I found this to be an interesting read.

IgE allergy diagnostics and other relevant tests in allergy, a World Allergy Organization position paper. This document covers skin prick tests, intradermal tests and patch testing as well as non-specific IgE testing, specific IgE testing and basophil activation tests (BAT). I found it to be very thorough and informative.

Food hypersensitivity reactions to seafish in atopic dermatitis patients older than 14 year of age – The evaluation of association with other allergic diseases and parameters. This paper suggested a higher occurrence of atopic dermatitis in fish allergic patients as well as sensitisation to fungi and reactions to celery

Nickel allergy to orthopaedic implants: A review and case series. I included a paper last month about titanium allergy after implant.

The role of nutritional factors and food allergy in the development of psoriasis. Just an abstract, but this was interest of me as my sister has suffered with psoriasis since she was a child and has recently given up dairy to try to improve her condition.

Pea (Pisum sativum) allergy in children: Pis s 1 is an immunodominant major pea allergen and presents IgE binding sites with potential diagnostic value. Abstract only, you don’t see many studies on peas.

Allergy to tree-of-heaven pollen in Germany: detection by positive nasal provocation

Association between fruit and vegetable allergies and pollen-food allergy syndrome in Japanese children: a multicenter cross-sectional case series. The most common allergies in children in this study were found to be apple, peach, and kiwi.

Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful.

If you spot an article or research that you think would interest me you can message my Facebook page or tag me in a Tweet.


Sulphite (Sulfite) Allergies

This was previously posted to my old blog, Itch, Swell, Ooze, Wheeze in March 2015. This is an updated version for 2020.

This allergy makes the Food Standards Agency list of top 14 allergens which needs to be monitored, assessed and declared in food packaging and restaurants in the UK.

When I wrote about the Top 14 allergens last year I found it interesting that Sulphite is not an allergen included in most other countries lists and aside from the EU is only monitored in Canada and South Africa. 

Sulphites (or sulfites as they are known in most other countries) are different from other allergens in the top 14 as they are inorganic salts with preservative properties rather than food proteins.  Allergy UK estimates that this allergy only affects 2% of the population, but that this can rise in asthmatics up to 13%.  This is not usually a classic IgE allergy as the symptoms are usually either from contact in the form of rashes or exacerbating asthma symptoms, so are classed as a sensitivity.

Sufferers may find that they are able to tolerate a low sulphite diet rather than avoiding completely, but it is still important to read labels and be aware of foods which naturally contain sulphites.  In the EU Sulphites are to be labelled if they are present in the food at levels above 10mg per kg or 10mg per litre (or if one of its ingredients contains it).

Some wine producers incorrectly assume that their wine is “sulphite free” as they do no add treatments during the production of their wine.  Sulphites can be produced naturally during the normal fermentation process, so there is a chance that residual leves of suplhites will exceed to 10mg declaration threshold.


It has been suggested that the best way to diagnose this allergy is through an oral challenge, but it is unlikely that this will be undertaken in the UK.  It could be potentially dangerous to patients with a history of severe asthma.

Blood tests are generally unreliable in allergy diagnosis and as sulphite allergy is rarely IgE this is not recommended.  There has been some small-scale success with skin prick testing for sulphite sensitivity which is safer.  

As with most allergies it is recommended that elimination diets and avoidance are the safest, quickest and cheapest course of action.

It is very difficult to get that initial diagnosis of sulphite allergy, so it’s important to make a note of food which contain it. If you are interested in making a food diary to diagnose or manage your allergy, see my food diary download.

Diet Management

Looking at labels is more difficult with this allergy than it is for the other top 14 as they are hidden in places you wouldn’t expect.


E220Sulphur dioxide
E221Sodium sulphite
E222Sodium hydrogen sulphite
E223Sodium metabisulphite
E224Potassium metabisulphite
E226Calcium sulphite
E227Calcium hydrogen sulphite
E228Potassium hydrogen sulphite
E150bCaustic sulphite caramel
E150dSulphite ammonia caramel

Other Foods

  • Dried fruit
  • Jams and Preserves
  • Bottled Sauces
  • Peeled or dehydrated potatoes
  • Pickled Food
  • Gravies
  • Gelatin
  • Naturally occurring in onions and garlic


  • Cider
  • Wine
  • Tea
  • Fruit Juices

Cosmetics/Cleaning products

  • Bleach
  • Hair Dyes
  • Fake Tan products
  • Skin lighteners

Prescription Drugs/Anaesthetics

  • Epinephrine
  • Local Anaesthetics
  • Eye Drops

Did you spot that in the last section? Epinephrine. Sodium metabisulphite is used as a preservative in EpiPen and Jext pens – you can read more about that on the Anaphylaxis Campaign website.



This is a blog and should not be used for advice on diagnosis or treatments. 

If you think you may have a food allergy please contact your GP in the first instance to discuss treatment options.

References and Further Readings


Allergy UK Factsheet on Sulphites

Food Allergy Canada Factsheet on Sulphites

Sulphites in Adrenaline Injectors – Anaphylaxis Campaign

Research Papers

Contact allergy to sodium sulfite and its relationship to sodium metabisulfite, 2012

Considerations for the diagnosis and management of sulphite sensitivity, 2012

Adverse Reactions to the Sulphite Additives, 2012

Sulfites, The MAK Collection for Occupational Health and Safety, online 2014

Food Standards Agency – Food Labelling for Wine, 2016

Contact Allergy & Intolerance to Sulphite Compounds: Clinical and Occupational Relevance, 2017

Hidden Occupational Allergens such as Additives, 2018

January – Articles of Interest

Differences in omega-5-gliadin allergy: East versus West. This is a full paper, omega-5-gliadin allergy is also known as wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis.  If you want an intro to what this is you can read about it on my previous blog here.

Association Between Folate Metabolites and the Development of Food Allergy in Children. It was found that higher concentrations of unmetabolised folic acid at birth were associated with the development of Food Allergy.  The cause of which was not determined, but may be due to increased exposure to synthetic folic acid in utero or underlying genetic differences in synthetic folic acid metabolism.

Peptide-glycodendrimers As Potential Vaccines for Olive Pollen Allergy. Just an abstract for this one, but I found it of interest.

Clinical Management of Seafood Allergy. Full article, very informative.

Does Allergy Break Bones? Osteoporosis and Its Connection to Allergy. Another full article – a very click-baity title it’s a good read, but please note the conclusion.  “Allergy and bone metabolism have common mediators and pathways, the available data are heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting… it is a matter of extreme complexity still in an embryonic phase of study that requires further targeted and in-depth studies”.

Transplant induced food sensitization without allergy—mechanisms of tolerance. Abstract only, case study of a man who had a stem cell transplant from a relative with a peanut allergy.

Cinnamon extract inhibits allergen‐specific immune responses in human and murine allergy models. Abstract only, this may only be of interest to me as I looked at the microbial effects of cinnamon as part of my dissertation.

Suspected allergy to titanium after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion using a Zero-P device: a case report. Abstract only, unusual case study of an allergic reaction to small screws and titanium plate which led to removal of the whole device.

Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful.

If you spot an article or research that you think would interest me you can message my Facebook page or tag me in a Tweet.


How do I make a food diary for allergies?

I still see this question pop up every now and then . If you are already feeling overwhelmed by your symptoms (or your child’s symptoms) it’s hard to know where to start if you want to document what you are eating and what reactions you are getting to show to your healthcare provider.

Our Diagnosis Story

My daughter exhibited signs of food allergy from just a few weeks old, it was obvious as she ate her first solid food that it was dairy causing the problem. We were lucky that we were able to get a blood test at 5 months old as she had such a bad reaction that we ended up in hospital.

After cutting dairy from both of our diets (as I was still breastfeeding) the eczema which covered her head improved by about 90%, but I felt that she was still not doing as well as she should. My doctor and health visitor were very unhelpful, they both felt that milk allergies were not a real concern, but I found a lot of support in a Facebook group where I read that milk allergies were often linked with soya and egg allergies. I have always eaten a lot of eggs, so I cut them out of my diet on a trial basis and voila – we worked it out, she has an allergy to dairy and egg!

Did I use a food diary?

To work out the main food allergies, no, we didn’t have to. Why do I still think food diaries are a great diagnostic tool and recommend them in my social media groups?

By now I had a lot of experience as an allergy mom (I’m a Brummie, we say mom ) and I knew what all the main allergens were, but from my experience in the Facebook allergy group I knew that there were hundreds of children (and adults) who were allergic to all sorts of foods, dander and pollens.

My daughter was still ill on a regular basis and it seemed more like a reaction than illness as it eased quickly with anti-histamines. These reactions weren’t huge and didn’t require a hospital visit, but it was frustrating to be missing a small piece of a bigger puzzle. At this time A was 3 years old and I had another baby to look after, I was fed up with these reactions that would appear from time to time and decided to take action and make a food diary.

I wasn’t able to find one that fit my needs exactly, so at the time I wrote it all down in a normal blank notebook. After just 1 week I had a main suspect, pineapple. This is definitely not one of the main allergies and quite uncommon. I cut it from her diet and she no longer had the frequent digestive reactions.

I did not tell my doctor at the time, he was still convinced that the milk and egg allergies were really a problem with my anxiety (you will be happy to know that I am registered with a new, better practice now). On a visit to the allergist with A aged 7 I told the doctor about my food diary and she added pineapple to the list of allergens to be tested, she was very excited to try something different – and there it was a weak positive! FOOD DIARIES DO WORK!

How do food diaries work?

We were lucky (if you can see it that way), we started with an extreme allergic reaction on weaning and she was ultimately only allergic to 3 things. People often find that it is harder to gather evidence as to what is actually causing the problem when the reactions are less severe or when you are dealing with multiple allergies.

  1. Make a note of what you eat and it’s major components (e.g. weetabix is mostly wheat, note the fruits that were in the smoothie).
  2. Make a note of the time you ate something, after a week you may see a clear time period from when you ate a food to a reaction, which is why you may have missed it.
  3. Make a note of any medications you are taking and the time you took them, side effects from medication are not uncommon and could be mistaken for an allergic reaction to foods.
  4. Make a note of any reactions and the time so that you can try and make a link back to a certain type of food consumed.
  5. In the case of rashes and hives I would also take a picture on your phone to show your healthcare provider. I have also known people take nappy pics, which may also help you show a doctor the extent of your problems.
  6. Try to eat a varied diet in the time you are looking with as much variety as possible, this helped me in seeing the days my daughter did not have pineapple were days without reactions, had she eaten it every day I may have not noticed the pattern.

How do I use the completed food diary?

If you can see no obvious patterns from your diary you can take it along to see your doctor, I would recommend having at least 2 weeks of entries with a couple of reactions on to see if you are able to identify anything.

The most likely suspects for food allergy are going to be your top 14 allergens. I would also look at any relatives with allergies, we have a very distinct dairy allergy in our family, so it was the first thing I considered. I would also say, don’t discount a food just because you think you can’t be allergic to it – I have spoken to many people with melon, lettuce and carrot allergies. You can be allergic to anything!

If you are having no luck with your doctor and can’t figure it out on your own you should consider social media to try and guide you – there is a lot of experience in my allergy group on salicylate allergies and sugar intolerance and there is usually someone around who will have gone through the same thing you have.

Please be cautious

I was able to cut dairy from my diet when breastfeeding as I was able to get a source of calcium from fortified soya milk. I was able to cut eggs from my diet as I had other sources of protein available to me.

My daughter has a specialist soya milk which is supplemented with vitamins and minerals and has not affected her health or development. There were no consideration to be made when cutting pineapple from her diet as it does not affect any of the major food groups and she has no problems with other fruit and vegetables.

In the case of small children, especially those with multiple allergies, I would always recommend taking your findings to a doctor or health visitor and asking for help for a referral to a dietitian. We saw one every 18 months until the age of 9 and it was a great help, I would definitely recommend it to ensure you or your child are getting a fully balanced diet.

Where can I download a food diary?

I didn’t have a food diary specifically for identifying allergies when my children were little and certainly did not have time to put one together, so I have made a simple PDF daily sheet that you can download below.

It’s very simple, but I hope it can be of help to someone.

More Information

As always – I love to hear about your weird allergies – comment below or Tweet at me if you want to tell me all about them or tell me your struggles to get diagnosed properly.



This is a blog and should not be used for advice on diagnosis or treatments.  If you think you may have a food allergy please contact your GP in the first instance to discuss treatment options.

December – Articles of Interest

When I was writing my old blog (itch, swell, ooze, wheeze) I used to read lots of abstracts every month and list them for those that were interested. I really enjoyed doing it, so with work having calmed down I think I would like to go back to that.

I enjoy reading case studies of individuals with strange allergies and large cohort studies.

This is what caught my eye this month

Clinical and Laboratory findings of barley allergy in Korean children: a single hospital based retrospective study.  This is a small scale study, but I hadn’t seen one with barley before, so it caught my eye.

A case of twin results of allergic test in twin with atopic dermatitis. This is a rare find! Studies on twins are always very interesting and I don’t think I have seen any allergy studies with twins. This is important to consider as it shows that there may be genetic factors which play a part in allergic conditions as well as environmental factors.

The role of Caesarean section in childhood asthma.  Another interesting read. Both of my children were born by caesarean section (as was I), but only my daughter with allergies suffers from asthma.

Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful!

If you spot an article or research that you think would interest me you can message my Facebook page or tag me in a Tweet.


What do you eat? Food Allergies at Christmas

Christmas is coming soon! There will be parties, pets and foods to navigate for our family. My side of the family is quite large, we have a big family party on Boxing day, I have 2 children and 8 nieces and nephews, so it is wonderfully chaotic with 10 children.

I think food allergies are genetic on my side of the family. My brother and his youngest daughter are dairy intolerant, his other 3 children all outgrew their dairy intolerances with time. All 4 of his children have egg intolerances, but are able to eat cooked egg.

My sister recently went vegan to improve her psoriasis and she has found that has really helped, her oldest and youngest sons are slightly dairy intolerant, but do have it in small amounts.

I am the only one of my siblings without intolerances to food, so it does seem unfair that my daughter, A, is the one who is severely allergic to milk, eggs and pineapple (amongst other bits and pieces). My youngest daughter was intolerant to milk as a baby, but only very mildly and grew out of it really quickly.

What do we eat at parties?

Long gone are the days of a sit down meal, where we used to eat cold meats , chips and pickles (still for me an all time favourite boxing day meal). This became impractical in terms of space over the last few years with all the extra children. This option could be considered a decent allergy-friendly meal, but A hasn’t eaten much meat since she was 3, only recently started eating chips and does not like pickles. We would always make her an alternative of fish, rice and raw vegetables (as she also does not like cooked vegetables). This is still her favourite meal.

We now do a Boxing Day buffet and the 4 families bring leftovers from Christmas Day and whatever we have baked/cooked. Things my daughter loves at the buffet are:

  • jelly (making sure it’s vegan for my sister)
  • homemade ginger biscuits (recipe has no eggs and uses a dairy free spread to replace butter)
  • homemade chocolate concrete (dairy and egg free) – I bake without recipe – still making since 2012!
  • rice (which goes with the turkey curry/chilli, she doesn’t like spicy food – but loves the rice)
  • chips
  • crisps (salt and vinegar and cheese and onion both have dairy in them, once set out in a bowl they look the same no matter the flavour – so always plain ready salted)
  • jam tarts (my mother made these for years as egg free jam tarts are hard to find, but we have recently found that Asda do them and they are very reasonably priced)
  • vegan cupcakes (usually found from Pinterest, changes every year as I have never found one that my daughter loves – she does not like the cakey texture, the other children always eat them no matter A’s opinion)
  • popcorn – salty or sweet but never toffee as that often contains milk
  • raspberry sorbet – found in most UK supermarkets, dairy/egg free, raspberry is the best in our opinion
  • party rings – dairy and egg free – nothing special, just a biscuit that all the kids (and my dad like)
  • veggie sticks – cucumber, carrot and celery are family favourites (yes the children like celery)
  • breadsticks (not cheesy or with sesame – just plain – these are nice and cheap as well)
  • Haribo / Moam – only the goldbears have a pineapple one, her pineapple allergy is not that severe, we know which colour they are and pick them out
  • freezer lollies – cheaper the better, we have to watch out for pineapple as it’s in more things than you think

What is banned?

The list of banned food became more and more lax as the original 8 children got older, they were less messy eaters, acutely aware of A’s allergies and better at hand-washing. We now have an incredibly messy toddler and baby in the family, so we have returned to banning a few items.

  • the poor dog, my sister’s beautiful basset hound, Nora, is the first to go. A is very allergic to dogs, it exacerbates her asthma and irritates her eczema. I have never asked my sister to do this, she just thinks it’s best for all us to have a great time and not worry about medication so much. She also does a deep clean in the doggy rooms to get rid of all the hair. Nora has a wonderful time eating things she shouldn’t at her other Grandma’s house around the corner.
  • Cheesy crisps, quavers, mini cheesy bites, cheese puffs, onion ring corn snacks – the dust on those things get everywhere and have led to A’s eyes closing on more than one occasion.
  • Ice-cream – too messy in terms of cross contamination – A once had a reaction to touching a table where ice-cream had been spilt and then wiped (but not really cleaned). As a toddler one Christmas she had a horrible burn-like mark on her cheek from being kissed by a person who had eaten ice-cream.
  • Chocolate – Christmas is the season of chocolate, but we avoid it at large get-togethers for the same reason as ice-cream, warm melted chocolate on kids hands gets wiped on every surface and door handle until a reaction is inevitable.
Nora the Basset

Family Attitudes towards our Food Allergies

It wasn’t easy when A was little, I think the family found it strange that she didn’t outgrow her allergies like the other children in the family. My side of the family really saw the severity of her allergies with the ice-cream kiss incident and have paid a lot more attention since. None of them have ever try to undermine me or offer her something that she probably shouldn’t have.

Anecdotally I hear a lot of people say that their in-laws are the worst for making mistakes and being unreasonable, especially at holiday celebrations. I have to say I am very lucky with mine. My partners side of the family is very small, his step-sister is vegan and his stepmother was a vegetarian until her 60s when she started eating fish. When A was small and we struggled they gave us lists of things we could make, made things from scratch for her and found (and continue to do so) lots of lovely vegan treats which A can enjoy. Last week they gave us Gourmet Vegan popcorn (which amused me as popcorn is mostly vegan anyway), but they are very supportive and I am glad they are part of our family!

How are your family at Christmas? Do they accommodate for your allergies?

What is your favourite allergy friendly-recipe?

Whatever you do this year have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Disclaimerour food allergies are unlikely to be the same as your allergies, always read labels and ingredients carefully, some of the foods we have are “may contain” – these are suitable for our child, but may not be for you.

Stay Safe – always remember to take your epi-pens, inhalers and anti-histamines to parties with food.

Fish Allergies

This was previously posted to my old blog, Itch, Swell, Ooze, Wheeze in September 2014. This is an updated version for 2019.

I have always felt that a diagnosis of fish allergy can be quite vague, ‘fish’ is such a general term and encompasses many thousands of species of fish, so it is a more complex allergy to deal with than its name suggests.

A diagnosis of fish allergy may follow as a result of a reaction from eating fish.

An IgE allergic reaction to fish is an immune response triggered by a response to proteins in the fish, the symptoms of which would be throat swelling, facial swelling, anaphylaxis, hives etc.  Allergy UK estimate that 15% of people suffering from a fish allergy also reacted to vapours released when cooking.  Once medication is taken these effects should reduce quickly (except in the case of anaphylaxis, this can take longer to recover from).

non-IgE allergic reaction to fish would be delayed up to 72 hours after ingestion and generally affects the gastrointestinal system, the symptoms are varied and many.  After antihistamines are taken it still might take several doses and days to reduce the symptoms associated with the reaction.

When fish is tinned or smoked the histamine level increases, so may also affect those who have a general histamine intolerance.  In these type of reactions the amount of histamine in the body builds up from various foods and environmental factors to cause an allergic reaction.

A vomiting/diarrhoea reaction to fish can also be caused by food poisoning.  It is more likely in the UK that food poisoning from fish will be caused by bacteria called Eschericia coli (E coli).  The onset of is unlikely be immediate, but may be confused with a non-IgE reaction, especially for those who already have multiple non-IgE allergies.

Another possible misdiagnosis of fish allergy might be scrombotoxicity.  This occurs as histamine is released from the fish flesh in some types of fish and causes an allergic like reaction with intense itching, fast pulse and skin flushing.  This reaction is due to the direct toxic effect of spoiled food so is referred to as food toxicity rather than a true allergic reaction.

Diet Management

For fish allergies a well taken history and food diary (challenges in mild cases) is the key to discriminating between an allergy to one species of fish, groups of fish or all fish.  It is thought that about 40% of people can tolerate more than one species of fish and in the case of those with multiple allergies it is important to avoid unnecessary diet restrictions.

Some smoked or canned fish contain high levels of histamine causing reactions.  Other commercially processed fish are lower in allergenic proteins due to loss of IgE binding so cause less reactions.

Like any allergy avoidance is key, if anaphylactic to fish avoid any products which ‘may contain’ fish.  The hidden places for fish allergens are:

  • Certain salad dressings
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Pet foods
  • Prawn crackers
  • Thai foods
  • Pizza
  • Stock Cubes
  • Relish (caponata)
  • Fish oil and Glucosamine Supplements
  • Lip Gloss/Lip balm

Key Allergens/Proteins in Fish Allergy

The key protein associated with fish allergy was always thought to be Parvalbumins, which are a group of proteins found in most species of fish.  It is found in different concentrations in different species of fish, which would be an indicator that this is the offending protein if certain fish can be tolerated and others cannot.  

Parvalbumin is a very stable protein, so able to cause reactions when cooked or as vapour during cooking (but food is thought to be 20-60% lower in parvalbumins when cooked).  It is found in high concentrations in the light muscle of fish rather than the dark muscle, so fish like cod and carp are higher in parvalbumin levels compared to swordfish and tuna which have lower levels as they have more dark muscle tissue (tuna parvalbumin is structurally different which is an important factor in allergenicity).  This would mean the size, age, health and species of the fish affects the protein levels, which is why it sometimes seems a mystery that you are reacting to fish and other times you can tolerate it.

Parvalbumin is the protein used for skin prick testing and RAST tests, so you/your child may show as negative to these tests if their allergy is to other proteins found in fish, namely endolases, aldolases, collagen and most importantly gelatin.

Gelatin is a protein found in both mammalian and fish meat/skin and is a common allergen.  It is possible that some fish derived gelatin contains parvalbumins and vice versa.  Fish gelatin is used less often than mammalian gelatin in food products, but its use is on the increase in pharmaceuticals and health supplements.  

Manufacturers are more likely to declare in food products where gelatin is derived from fish, but medicines in the UK and US do not yet have to declare their allergens.



This is a blog and should not be used for advice on diagnosis or treatments. 

If you think you may have a food allergy please contact your GP in the first instance to discuss treatment options.

References and Further Readings


Research Papers

Fish allergens at a glance: variable allergenicity of parvalbumins, the major fish allergens,

Specific IgE to fish extracts does not predict allergy to specific species within an adult fish allergic population,

IgE antibody to fish gelatin (type I collagen) in patients with fish allergy,

Important variations in parvalbumin content in common fish species: a factor possibly contributing to variable allergenicity,

Cross-reactivity in fish allergy: A double-blind, placebo-controlled food-challenge trial,

Fish collagen is an important panallergen in the Japanese population,

Allergy to fish collagen: Thermostability of collagen and IgE reactivity of patients’ sera with extracts of 11 species of bony and cartilaginous fish,

Why do we have 14 allergens?

Have you ever found that as your food allergy is not on the top 14 allergen list you are taken less seriously at work or school, by friends, family or your GP? 

If the food you are allergic to does not need to be labelled it must be less serious, right? This kind of thinking could have significant consequences for the person suffering from the allergy.  Many people living without allergies don’t realise that you can have anaphylactic reactions to food that are not in the top 14. 

How were the top 14 allergens decided upon?

In 2003 12 top allergens were covered in Annex IIIa of the EU directive 2003/89/EC which is the directive which covers the labelling of allergens in food.  The original 12 in 2003 were

  1. Cereals containing gluten
  2. Crustaceans
  3. Eggs
  4. Fish
  5. Peanuts
  6. Soybeans
  7. Milk
  8. Tree nuts
  9. Celery
  10. Mustard
  11. Sesame Seeds
  12. Sulphur Dioxide

This was not a static list and work into better understanding of food allergies across Europe continued.

EuroPrevall was a large-scale study which launched in June 2005 across Europe.  It consisted of 3 main parts, birth cohort studies, Community Studies and Outpatient Clinic Studies.  The project was funded by the EU to inform on the bigger picture surrounding the incidence of allergic reactions to food in different European countries, advise on the effect of allergies on the quality of life of sufferers, standardising allergy diagnosis and work towards making standardised food labelling across the EU.

In January 2008 a proposal was put forward by the European Commission to look at labelling issues which had arisen since the last EU directive and reviewing all the new allergy research in the EuroPrevall studies.  This was discussed in 2011 by European Parliament and EU Regulation 1169/2011 was published in November 2011.  These directives were more explicit in what was covered by the regulations.  At this time Molluscs and Lupin were added to the original 12, taking the number of allergens to be labelled up to 14.

What do countries on other continents label?

The EU has regulations on 14 allergens, compared to the US which has 8 and Japan which has 7 (mandatory labelling for the 7 allergens shown in the table below and voluntary labelling for a further 20 allergens).

Many countries don’t have labelling laws at all.  The EU likely has more as it covers a more diverse group of cultures than Australia and the US which means different European countries have different eating habits.

I would love to hear from you if I missed out your country, let us know what the regulations for labelling allergens are where you live!

Are we done?

No, the list of allergens is unlikely to remain static.  The EuroPrevall studies may have concluded, but there is another large-scale follow-up study called iFAMM, Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management.  This newer study will incorporate study data from the US and Australia as well as continuing studies in Europe.

Does your food allergy make the top 14 or are you allergic to something more unusual?  Let me know on Twitter, Facebook or comment below, I am always interested to hear from you!



This is a blog and should not be used for advice on diagnosis or treatments.  If you think you may have a food allergy please contact your GP in the first instance to discuss treatment options.

References and Further Readings

Studies under EuroPrevall

  1. A framework for measuring the social impact of food allergy across Europe: a EuroPrevall state of the art paper, 2007,
  2. Food allergy QoL questionnaire for children aged 0–12 years: content, construct, and cross‐cultural validity, 2008,
  3. Factors influencing the incidence and prevalence of food allergy, 2009,
  4. The EuroPrevall surveys on the prevalence of food allergies in children and adults: background and study methodology, 2009,
  5. Health‐related quality of life of food allergic patients: comparison with the general population and other diseases, 2010,
  6. The multinational birth cohort of EuroPrevall: background, aims and methods, 2010,
  7. Online version of the food allergy quality of life questionnaire–adult form: validity, feasibility and cross‐cultural comparison, 2011,
  8. Can we define a tolerable level of risk in food allergy? Report from a EuroPrevall/UK Food Standards Agency workshop, 2011,
  9. The EuroPrevall birth cohort study on food allergy: baseline characteristics of 12,000 newborns and their families from nine European countries, 2011,
  10. The EuroPrevall outpatient clinic study on food allergy: background and methodology, 2015,
  11. Prevalence of food sensitization and probable food allergy among adults in India: the EuroPrevall INCO study, 2016,

Other further reading of note

Click to access guide_asiapacificfoodlaw_sep2018.pdf

New to food allergies? How to get started

Have you just been diagnosed with a food or environmental allergy?  Welcome to the allergy community!

How did I start?

Nearly 10 years ago, my lovely 5-month-old daughter had dairy for the first time and was rushed to our local hospital after having a severe allergic reaction.  I was in limbo for a short time where I didn’t know what to feed her, what food we should be avoiding, and I didn’t know anyone else who had experienced the same thing. My GP, health visitor and hospital all failed to give me the right information to help feed my baby safely. So where did I look?

As I am based in the UK I found the best places to start were

But I also used more global resources by looking at

I hope you also find this to be a good jumping off point.

At the moment there is plenty of information on Twitter and a large allergy community there (which I wish was the case 10 years ago when I started) and I was surprised to find a lot of information on Pinterest, especially if you are looking for special recipes avoiding multiple allergens. It’s another wonderful resource.

I have to say though my primary resource for information continues to be Facebook groups , especially if you join one based in your country.  I am now only in 2 groups on Facebook which I continue to find useful as my daughter heads towards her tweens and teens.

Please come and join one of our groups, especially if you are struggling with a newly diagnosed child, introduce yourself, let us know what allergies you have and you will often find multiple members of the group willing to offer help and advice.

Let me know in the comments what websites you have found useful.


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