With a food allergy, it’s always important for you to know what you’re eating. Reading labels is your best way to stay safe. Here are tips for spying out food allergens.
Any packaged food has to show on the label if it contains milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans. Look on both the food label -- "Contains: Soy" -- and the ingredients list. The FDA does not consider highly refined soybean oil an allergen (found in many processed foods). Check with your doctor about whether or not you should avoid soybean oil.
Your home is your castle -- except when you’re allergic to it. A recent nationwide survey found that over half of all Americans test positive for at least some allergens, and many of these are indoor allergies such as dust, mold, and pet dander.
How can you allergy-proof your home to make it a refuge, not a source of sneezes? Take a tour of your house from room to room, find out where the allergens are lurking, and get relief from indoor allergies.
Stick with packaged and labeled foods. Foods from salad bars, deli counters, and bakeries are more likely to accidentally contain your allergy triggers.
Read food labels every time you buy a product -- even if it's something you buy every week. Food manufacturers change ingredients all the time. A food that has been safe for you and your family may not always be.
If you see an ingredient you're not sure about, be careful. Look it up first. Consider contacting the manufacturer if you need more info.
Buying a different size or low-fat version? Read food labels. Low-fat or reduced-calorie versions of familiar foods may have very different ingredients. Sizing (like snack-sized packs) or packaging (a can vs. a carton) can affect ingredients. Some products may have different ingredients in different parts of the country.
Check labels on medications and toiletries. Food allergens can show up in drugs, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, and lotions.
Do ask and tell. At restaurants, let the staff, servers, managers, cooks, or chef know about your food allergy and special accommodations that you might need. Don’t be afraid to ask how a dish is prepared. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell everything that is in a dish based on how it is listed on the menu.