According to www.food.gov.uk, there are a total of 14 food allergens and, by UK law, food business must inform you if they use any of them as ingredients in the food and drink they offer.
These 14 food allergens – which has been identified by food law as the most potent and prevalent allergens – are as follows:
- Cereals containing gluten (such as barley and oats)
- Crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs and lobsters)
- Molluscs (such as mussels and oysters)
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)
- Tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts)
But what is the most common food allergy?
It is difficult to pinpoint the number 1 most common food allergy, but peanut and milk allergies are the most common cause of food allergies in the UK.
Peanut allergy affects around 2% (1 in 50) of youngsters in the UK and has been on the rise in recent decades. It normally appears in early childhood, however it might arise later in life on rare occasions.
Did you know; peanuts are a legume and are from a different family to tree nuts. In many cases, this can mean that the individual suffering from a peanut allergy can eat tree nuts without any reaction but, in other cases, they can be allergic to both peanuts and some tree nuts.
Cow’s milk (protein) allergy (CMA or CMPA) is one of the most frequent food allergies in infants and children. By the time they reach school age, most children will have outgrown their milk allergy (around 5 years of age), as adult onset cow’s milk allergy is extremely rare.
In the UK, an estimated 6-8% of children up to the age of three years have a food allergy, whilst around 2 million+ people are currently living with a diagnosed food allergy, although this number could be much higher in reality.
Parents often get confused between a Food allergy and Food Intolerance. Food intolerance is simply when the body cannot properly digest the food and irritates the digestive system causing various symptoms such as nausea, bloating, loose stools, tiredness e.t.c. Whereas, in the case of a food allergy the body’s immune system attacks the food causing histamine to be released in the body. The reactions can lead to various symptoms such as hives, itching, eczema, throat tightness, abdominal pain, vomiting e.t.c.
Paediatric food allergy testing is available at our clinics in Horley and Reigate, Surrey, Wimbledon, London, and Spire Gatwick, making us easily accessible to see children from all nearby areas, including Chichester, Banstead, Dorking, Epsom, Guildford, Redhill, Southampton, Portsmouth, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, North and South Kensington, Hammersmith, Twickenham, Camden Town, Wandsworth, and all nearby towns and villages.
If you are concerned that your child may have a food allergen, please contact The Paediatric Gut Investigation Clinic today.