Learn About Food Allergy


What is food allergy?

Food allergy is an adverse reaction of the immune system after consuming certain kind of food. Symptoms typically appear shortly after eating. Symptoms and severity vary among individuals, including skin irritation, rashes, swelling face, sneezing nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and shortness of breath. In some cases, severe allergic reaction may cause anaphylactic shock or even death.


Which are the common food allergens?

Food allergens refer to food that can cause allergic reactions. In most cases, food allergies are triggered by the following eight kinds of food:

  1. Cereals containing gluten (e.g. wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, their hybridised strains and their products);
  2. Crustaceans and their products (e.g. shrimps, crabs and lobsters);
  3. Eggs and their products;
  4. Fish and their products;
  5. Peanuts and their products;
  6. Milk and dairy products;
  7. Tree nuts and their products (e.g. almonds, walnuts and pistachios);
  8. Soybeans and their products. 

However, some individuals may be allergic to food other than the items listed above while some may even be allergic to food additives, e.g. sulfur dioxide and sulfites, etc.


How to avoid food allergy?

To avoid food allergy, the primary way is to identify the food allergen and remove it from daily diet. People with food allergies should observe the following tips:

  1. Do not consume food that may cause an allergic reaction;
  2. Read the food ingredient label on the package carefully before purchasing and consuming prepackaged food;
  3. If possible, cook and dine at home. When eating out, explain to the service attendant about your situation, and ask about the food ingredients and preparation method of the dish;
  4. When preparing food, handle food allergens separately, such as using specific cutting boards, knives and containers;
  5. Do not eat the food if in doubt about its ingredients;
  6. If feeling unwell after eating, seek medical treatment immediately.