Canada's 9 most common food allergies

Understanding food safety for allergy sufferers.

By Adrienne Robertson

Food allergens: Peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, milk, and eggs

While some meals contain allergens as a main ingredient, others may only have trace amounts and may not be obvious. This means you might not recognize a problem until someone has a reaction. Get to know the nine most common food allergens in Canada, and their synonyms, so you can serve safe meals to known allergy sufferers.

Do you have any food allergies? Share your stories and tips for living with allergies with other readers in the comments section below!

1. Peanuts
Peanut allergies are so serious that some schools ban half of the “PB-and-J” combo from their premises. In your home, wipe down surfaces you or your kids may have touched after eating peanuts or peanut butter to avoid spreading the oils.
Also known as: arachide, beer nuts, ground nuts, nut meats
Possible sources: cakes, cookies, fried foods, Szechwan sauce, vegetarian meat substitutes, cereals

2. Tree nuts
These include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts (filberts), macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts (pignolias), pistachio nuts and walnuts.
Also known as: anacardium nuts, nut meats, pinon
Possible sources: baked goods, salads, chocolate bars, trail mix, flavoured coffee, Amaretto

3. Sesame seeds
Their size is misleading -- sesame seeds can actually be quite deadly and can send someone who is allergic into anaphylactic shock. Any package listing generic "seeds” is often referring to sesame seeds.
Also known as: tahini, gingelly, til, benne, benniseed
Possible sources: sauces, dressings, dips, adhesive bandages, cosmetics, pet food

4. Milk
Anyone with a milk allergy must stay away from all dairy products, including cheese, yogurt and ice cream. While some products obviously contain milk, it is also used as an ingredient in many recipes, such as in powder form for instant foods.
Also known as: casein, caseinate, calcium, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin, whey, curds
Possible sources: tofu, baked goods, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, fried foods, seasonings, soup mixes

5. Eggs
Luckily, many children who have egg allergies grow out of them by age three, so they can join the rest of us in enjoying rich baked goods like cakes, cookies, muffins and pancakes. If someone you know has an egg allergy, check that any sauce or topping you serve is egg-free, because these are the parts of meals we most often forget to check.
Also known as: ovo, albumin, meringue, vitellin, conalbumin
Possible sources: sauces, baby food, icing, pies, cakes, quiche, pasta (egg noodles)

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