Some foods and food ingredients or their components can cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis.
Most food allergies are caused by peanuts,tree nuts, milk, eggs, sesame seeds, fish and shellfish, soy and wheat, and these must be declared on the food label however small the amount added.
Sources of gluten, also an allergen, need to be declared on the label so people with Coeliac Disease or wheat allergy can identify these products.
Sulphite preservatives must also be declared on the label if added at 10 (or more) milligrams per kilogram of food.
Some food labels say ‘may contain’ certain allergens, such as ‘may contain nuts’. This is because the manufacturer is concerned that traces of nuts might be present in the food unintentionally, if, for example, the food is prepared on the same equipment as products that contain nuts.
Lupin is a legume related to peanuts and soy that is increasingly valued as a nutritious food. Lupin and lupin products have been used in Europe for many years. It has to be labelled as an allergen.
Sometimes ingredients derived from known allergenic foods are not clearly identified in the ingredients list, for example soy might be listed as ‘textured vegetable protein’
Many of the allergic reactions that occur from unlabelled food eaten outside the home, such as in restaurants and cafes.