Food for thought: 4 foods with hidden allergens

foods with hidden allergens

Food for thought: 4 foods with hidden allergens

Food allergies can feel like you’re navigating a minefield. When you have one, you realise just how common your allergen is, making food shopping, dining out, and even going to a friend’s a more complicated task than it needs to be. But even foods you would never expect to be hazardous can be a danger.

It’s why you should always read the ingredients label and find out what’s in your food. We wanted to do a bit of an experiment: what seemingly innocuous foods actually contain allergens? In our research, we found some surprising examples…


There are certain sauces you might expect to contain allergens. Something described as a “creamy” sauce is likely to contain milk or eggs. That’s a given. But what about barbecue sauce? We found a couple of examples that had peanuts in them – including one popular jerk BBQ brand.

It didn’t end there. Many other sauces – be they for barbecue, burgers, or kebabs – frequently contained eggs and soya. Even your run-of-the-mill tomato ketchup can contain celery. So it’s not always the ingredients you expect in such a simple condiment.

Salad dressings

Dressings are similar. Again, you probably expect it from a Caesar dressing, but not necessarily from a vinaigrette. We found dressings that contained celery and mustard, and many vinaigrettes contained sulphur dioxide or sulphites. While these alone might now cause allergies, they have been shown to aggravate people’s asthma symptoms.

The main issue here is when you’re dining out. A simple salad at a restaurant might sound nice, but if you don’t know what dressing they’re using, you can’t be sure what you’re being exposed to.

Hot dogs

For this, we’re referring to the kind you find preserved with something like brine in a glass jar. Classic hot dogs that you can cook up in five minutes. We found one brand that contains celery, soya, and mustard all in one pork package. So it got us thinking about other processed meats.

Allergens can be quite prevalent in canned, tinned, or even sandwich meats. We found ham with wheat in it. Spam with milk. Even normal sausages use eggs as a binding agent. Saying that, we did find sandwich meats that were free from most common allergens, so there are safer options available.

Pet food

This is an odd one, we know. But something you might not consider is what your dog or cat eats and how that can affect you. For example, let’s say you give them a treat that contains peanut butter. If they come over to give you some affection – maybe even a lick – there could now be trace amounts of that peanut butter on your skin, causing a reaction.

We found examples that contained everything from wheat and dairy to more specific fruit and vegetable allergens. Is the amount so low that a reaction is unlikely? Probably. But it’s adding risk into your life that doesn’t need to be there.

There’s no doubt that, if you’re a seasoned pro with your allergies, that you’re used to looking at labels and picking out examples like these. But you still have to be vigilant. If you ever get complacent and don’t think twice about that hot dog you’re eating, it could cause unexpected (and unnecessary) discomfort. So keep these in mind – and keep your eyes open.

Navigating allergies is a constant battle, and we understand how that can beat you down over time. But you don’t have to deal with it alone. Our allergy specialists are experts in guiding you through your allergies and giving you the peace of mind to live your life without compromise. To register as a new patient, click here. Or call us on 02031 433 449.

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