Have you been diagnosed with food allergies, or are you having trouble managing food allergies in your family? Are you completely overwhelmed by what to buy when you grocery shop? This allergy-free shopping guide will help. I'm here to ease your stress. Keep reading to find out more.
When I first got diagnosed with multiple food allergies I was completely overwhelmed and stressed. I didn't know what to eat, where to shop, or how to read a label for food allergies. Read my Unexpected Journey with Allergies HERE.
Eating allergy-free requires many changes, but I've got you covered. Do you have food allergies yourself? Do your children have food allergies, or are you a caregiver for someone with food allergies? This post on allergy-free shopping is for you.
Let's start with some basic definitions. With so many terms used interchangeably regarding food allergies, this will help to clear things up.
Allergy-free means that a product/food is free of the top 9 allergens (dairy, eggs, fish, peanut, sesame, shellfish, soy, tree nuts - including coconut, wheat) as recognized by the FDA. Allergy-free is also known as "Allergy-Safe", and includes avoiding cross-contamination. Many products will have a statement indicating cross-contamination is possible. Statements such as "may contain...soy, wheat, tree nuts, etc." are on labels. This indicates the product/food is not completely allergy-free.
Allergy-friendly is also a term used a lot with regard to food allergies. Allergy-friendly means being aware of others' food allergies and keeping them safe from those allergies. It means a person is knowledgeable about food allergies and wants to help others. An example is contacting a person you know with food allergies coming to your gathering before the event and asking them what you should make for them.
The most important thing to remember is allergy-friendly may NOT necessarily mean allergy-free, even though these terms are used interchangeably.
How to Read a Food Label for Allergens
This is sometimes a daunting process. Here are a few tips to help.
- Read each label carefully every time you buy a product even if you have bought it many times. Manufacturers change ingredients in products frequently.
- Foods labeled NON-DAIRY may contain milk protein. Non-dairy is NOT always dairy-free.
- Natural flavorings listed in the ingredients may contain food allergens.
Hidden Sources of Allergens on Food Labels
If you see these ingredients listed anywhere on a food label, it means the allergen is present.
- Cholesterol free egg substitute
- Dried egg solids, dried egg
- Egg, egg white, egg yolk
- Egg wash
- Fat substitutes
- Meringue, meringue powder
- Powdered eggs
- Silici albuminate
- Whole egg
- Animal-free dairy
- Dairy product solids
- Half & Half
- Ice cream, ice milk, sherbet
- Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate
- Lactate solids
- Lactitol monohydrate
- Milk fat, anhydrous milk fat
- Rennet, rennet casein
- Sour cream, sour cream solids, imitation sour cream
- Yogurt, yogurt powder
- Arachic oil
- Arachis hypogaea
- Artificial nuts
- Beer nuts
- Boiled peanuts
- Cold-pressed, extruded, or expelled peanut oil
- Crushed nuts, crushed peanuts
- Earth nuts
- Goober peas
- Groundnuts, ground peanuts
- Hydrolyzed peanut protein
- Mixed nuts
- Monkey nuts
- Nu nuts flavored nuts
- Nut pieces
- Peanuts, peanut butter, peanut butter chips, peanut butter morsels
- Peanut flour
- Peanut paste
- Peanut sauce, peanut syrup
- Spanish peanuts
- Virginia peanuts
- Brazil nut
- Bush nut
- Coconut - the FDA includes coconut in the top 9 allergen list. Consult with your doctor for more information.
- Ginko nut
- Hickory nut
- Lichee nut
- Macadamia nut
- Nangai nut
- Pine nut
- Shea nut
- Benne, benne seed and benniseed
- Gingelly and gingelly oil
- Sesamol and sesamolina
- Sesamum indicum
- Sim sim
- Tahini (sesame paste)
- Bean curd
- Edamame (soybeans in pods)
- Hydrolyzed soy protein
- Kinako (roasted soybean flour)
- Koya dofu (freeze-dried tofu)
- Okara (soy pulp)
- Soy albumin
- Soy concentrate
- Soy fiber
- Soy formula
- Soy grits
- Soy milk
- Soy miso
- Soy nuts
- Soy nut butter
- Soy protein, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate
- Soy sauce
- Soy sprouts
- Soya flour
- Soybean granules
- Soybean curd
- Soybean flour
- Soy lecithin
- Soybean paste
- Teriyaki sauce
- Textured soy flour (TSF)
- Textured soy protein (TSP)
- Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
- Yaki-dofu (grilled tofu)
- Yuba (bean curd)
- All-purpose flour
- Bread — any made with white flour, wheat flour, or bread crumbs
- Cereal extract
- Cracker meal
- Emmer - also known as farro
- Flour — atta, club, common, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, graham, kamut, maida, semolina, spelt, triticale, triticum
- Flour — all-purpose, bread, bromated, cake, enriched, high gluten, high protein, instant pastry, phosphated, plain, soft wheat, steel ground, stone, ground, self-rising, unbleached, white, whole wheat
- Gluten — wheat gluten, vital gluten, vital wheat gluten
- Malt, malt extract
- Matzo — Matzo meal (matzoh, matzah, or matza)
- Noodles, pasta
- Wheat, whole wheat — wheat berries, wheat bran, whole wheat bread, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat germ oil, wheat protein isolate, wheat starch, wheat sprouts, sprouted wheat
PLEASE NOTE: This list merely offers suggestions and helpful tips. Be sure to read all labels carefully before sharing any foods mentioned in this post with someone with a food allergy.
The foods on this list are usually naturally allergy-free but remember to read labels carefully. Many times, natural flavorings or other ingredients are added and are NOT allergy-free.
- Fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruits and vegetables
- Fruit and vegetable juices
- Fresh or frozen meats, chicken, and fish
- Canned or dried beans and legumes
Allergy-Free Food Brands
PLEASE NOTE: These brands offer some allergy-free products. Not all products by these manufacturers are allergy-free. This list merely offers suggestions and helpful tips.
Be sure to read all labels carefully before sharing any foods mentioned in this post with someone with a food allergy.
- Amy's Kitchen - gluten/wheat-free
- Annie's - gluten and wheat-free
- Applegate Farms - gluten/wheat and soy-free
- Arrowhead Mills - gluten-free/wheat-free
- Bob's Red Mill - gluten-free/wheat-free
- Chebe - gluten-free/wheat-free, dairy-free, peanut/tree-nut free
- Daiya - dairy-free cheese products
- Earth Balance - gluten/wheat-free, soy, dairy, and egg-free
- Eden Foods - gluten-free/wheat-free
- Ener-G Foods - gluten-free/wheat-free
- Enjoy Life - gluten/wheat-free, dairy, soy, egg, shellfish, peanut, tree-nut, and fish-free
- Follow Your Heart - dairy-free cheeses, egg-free, and soy-free NOTE: Some products do contain soy.
- King Arthur - gluten/wheat-free
- Namaste Foods - free of wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts
- Nature's Path - gluten/wheat-free
- Pacific Foods - gluten/wheat-free, dairy-free
- So Delicious - dairy-free
- Trader Joe's - gluten/wheat-free, dairy-free
- Udi's - gluten-free/wheat-free NOTE: Most products from this brand contain eggs.