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Common Food Allergens: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

Common Food Allergens: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

Food allergies are a severe concern affecting millions worldwide, including in Singapore. Allergic reactions can range from mild symptoms such as hives, itching, and nausea to severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Understanding common allergens and how to avoid them is crucial for individuals with food allergies and those who prepare and serve food. We will delve deeper into the subject of food allergies in Singapore, the most common allergens, and ways to avoid them.

The Prevalence of Food Allergies in Singapore

Understanding food allergies in Singapore is essential to ensure people’s safety and health. Currently, limited information is available, but it is estimated that food allergies affect less than 5% of children under 12 years old and about 1% of adults.

Although the prevalence of food allergies in adults is lower, the severity of allergic reactions can be life-threatening. Educating individuals on common allergens and how to avoid them is crucial. Research and education are vital in addressing food allergies and promoting a safe and inclusive community.

Common Food Allergens

There are eight common food allergens that account for over 90% of all food allergies.

1. Milk

Cow’s milk is the most common food allergen among young children. People with a milk allergy should avoid milk and all dairy products, including cheese, yoghurt, and ice cream.

cow milks



Source: The Washington Post

2. Eggs

Egg allergies are most common in children but can be outgrown. People with egg allergies should avoid eggs in all forms, including baked goods, mayonnaise, and processed foods.


Source: Kids Eat in Color

3. Fish

Fish allergies are more common in adults and can be severe. People with fish allergies should avoid all fish and seafood, including sushi and fish sauce.

fish meat

Source: Futon Fish Market

4. Shellfish

Shellfish allergies are also more common in adults and can cause severe reactions. People with shellfish allergies should avoid all shellfish, including shrimp, crab, and lobster.



Source: Restaurant Clicks

5. Soy

Soy allergies are more common in children and can cause mild to severe reactions. People with soy allergies should avoid soy products, including soy milk, tofu, and soy sauce.

soy milk

Source: Eat This

6. Wheat

Wheat allergies are most common in children and can be outgrown. People with wheat allergies should avoid all wheat products, including bread, pasta, and baked goods.


Source: Agraryo

7. Peanuts

Peanut allergies are among the most common and severe food allergies. People with peanut allergies must avoid peanuts and all peanut products, including peanut butter and peanut oil.


Source: Food Network

8. Tree Nuts

Tree nut allergies are also common and can cause severe reactions. People with tree nut allergies should avoid all tree nuts, including almonds, walnuts, and cashews.

tree nuts

Source: Very Well Health

Ways to Avoid Allergens

Avoiding allergens is crucial for people with food allergies to prevent allergic reactions. Here are some tips for avoiding common allergens:

1. Read Food Labels Carefully

Always read food labels before purchasing food products to check for any allergens that may be present. Look out for phrases such as “may contain traces of…” or “processed in a facility that also processes…”.

allergens label

Source: FDA

2. Inform Food Handlers

Inform restaurant staff, food vendors, and other food handlers of any food allergies you have. Ask for the ingredients used in the dish and how it is prepared.

3. Ask for Ingredient Lists

Ask for ingredient lists and preparation methods before consuming food products, especially at restaurants or food stalls.

Source: Readers Digest

4. Bring Your Own Food

When in doubt, bring your own food to ensure you are not exposed to allergens. This is especially useful when attending social events or gatherings involving food.

5. Cook at Home

Cooking at home allows you to control the ingredients and avoid potential allergens. Consider investing in cookbooks and online resources that cater to individuals with food allergies.

cook food

Source: Randall Beans

6. Educate Yourself

Educate yourself about food allergies and how to manage them. Attend workshops, seminars, and food hygiene courses to stay informed about food allergies. Keep up-to-date with the latest research on food allergy management.

7. Carry Medications

People with severe food allergies should carry medications such as epinephrine auto-injectors, commonly known as EpiPens, with them at all times. These medications can help to alleviate symptoms during an allergic reaction and provide time to seek medical attention.


Source: CNBC

The Importance of Awareness and Understanding

Food allergies can be life-threatening, and raising awareness and understanding about them is crucial. Food handlers, including chefs, servers, and food vendors, must be trained to recognise and manage food allergies.

Furthermore, people without food allergies must understand the severity of allergic reactions and take appropriate measures to avoid cross-contamination. This includes washing hands and utensils thoroughly, using separate cutting boards and cooking surfaces, and not sharing food or drinks with individuals with food allergies.

Food allergies are a growing concern in Singapore, and it is essential to understand common allergens and how to avoid them. By following the tips mentioned above, individuals with food allergies can minimise their risk of exposure to allergens and prevent allergic reactions. It is also vital for everyone to be aware of food allergies and to take steps to ensure the food safety of those with allergies when preparing and serving food. We can create a safer and more inclusive food culture for everyone with greater awareness, understanding, and proactive measures.

Take charge of your health and safety by enrolling in our food safety course today. Learn how to prevent cross-contamination, identify allergens in food, and create a safe environment for yourself and others. Sign up now to gain the knowledge and confidence you need to manage food allergies easily.

Editor: RHAD