Common food allergies

In an article on the prevalence of food allergies in the developing world, Joyce Irene Boye posits that there are 170 foods known to provoke allergic reactions. Of these, the common foods responsible for inducing 90% of reported allergic reactions are peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat, nuts (e.g. hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, etc.), soybeans, fish crustaceans, and shellfish.

We will discuss some of the common allergies:

  • Corn allergy: It’s also called maize allergy, it’s a very rare food allergy. This is difficult to manage considering that there are many forms of corn available in consumable products and it’s for this very reason that sometimes the allergy goes unnoticed. The symptoms are usually mild such as swelling but sometimes it may lead to anaphylaxis.
  • Egg allergy: An allergy caused by hypersensitivity to a protein found in eggs. Mostly chicken goose, duck, or turkey eggs. They present as other allergies and prevention is usually by avoiding eggs or anything that contains eggs such as cookies or cake.
  • Fish allergy: This is immune hypersensitivity to a protein found in fish. Requires treatment with epinephrine and may present with all allergy symptoms including anaphylaxis.
  • Meat allergy: It can be in response to red meat or poultry meat (commonly chicken and turkey) where the body triggers an immune reaction and becomes overloaded with Immunoglobulin E antibodies. It’s a rare condition.
  • Milk allergy: This is an adverse immune reaction to one or more proteins in cow’s milk. Also requires treatment with epinephrine among other measures. It’s managed by avoiding dairy foods or any products containing dairy ingredients.
  • Peanut allergy: This is an adverse immune response to peanuts. Symptoms may include itchiness, hives, swelling, eczema, sneezing, asthma attack, and even anaphylaxis. There has been some evidence that early prevention can be due to the early introduction of peanuts to pregnant women and babies. Principle treatment is epinephrine injection.
  • Shellfish allergy: This is immune hypersensitivity to a protein found in shellfish. It may present as atopic dermatitis or esophageal inflammation and even anaphylaxis which is life-threatening and may require injection with epinephrine for management.
  • Soy allergy: It’s an adverse immune response gotten by ingesting compounds in soy. Its principally prevented by avoiding soy or consumables that may contain soy ingredients. Conditions may range from mild to severe, and even anaphylaxis that will require administration of epinephrine.


  1. Boye, J.I. Food allergies in developing and emerging economies: the need for comprehensive data on prevalence rates. Clin Transl Allergy 2, 25 (2012).

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