The most common foods to cause allergies

If you need to cater for a guest with an allergy it is important that you know where the allergen is most likely to be found. Here is a list of the most common allergens, what types of foods you will find them in and tips on finding alternatives.

Tree Nuts

These include almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, chestnuts. Can be found in sauces, desserts, crackers, bread, ice cream, marzipan, ground almonds, nut oils.

TIP: See Peanuts


In sauces, cakes, desserts, groundnut oil, peanut flour, peanut butter

TIP: Make sure you have an indemnity on your menu if you use nuts in your kitchen

Cow’s Milk

In yoghurt, cream, cheese, butter, milk powders, foods glazed with milk

TIP: If a recipe allows substitute milk with water, soy milk or in sweet recipes with fruit juice (guests allergic to milk may also be allergic to soy)

Crustacean or Shellfish

Such as shrimp, prawns, crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimp paste

TIP: When required, replace shellfish with a smoked fish that has a strong flavour


As tofu or beancurd, soya flour and textured soya protein, in some ice cream, sauces, desserts, meat products, vegetarian products

TIP: Use rice flour and canola oil for baked goods


In cakes, mousses, sauces, pasta, quiche, some meat products, mayonnaise, foods brushed with egg

TIP: Substitutes vary by dish. For baking, try with mashed banana. For savory dishes, crumbled Tofu works quite well


In some salad dressings, pizzas, relishes, fish sauce and some soy and Worcestershire sauces

TIP: Use mayonnaise as a base for dressings and use your own ingredients to create flavours


Foods containing flour, such as bread, pasta, cakes, pastry, meat products, sauces, soups, batter, stock cubes, breadcrumbs, foods dusted with flour

TIP: Those with a wheat allergy can usually eat rice flour, buckwheat flour, cornflour and maize flour


What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance occurs in individuals who lack the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest the sugar lactose (found in milk). Common symptoms are diarrhea, wind and general discomfort.

Can eat…
Soy milk, rice milk, dairy free cheeses such as soy cheese, soy yoghurt (note: soy is also an allergen)

Can’t eat…
Cow’s, Sheep, Goat’s (mammals) milk, some cheeses, dairy desserts, ice cream, butter, cheese, yoghurt

What is Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten intolerance is caused by the body’s inability to break down gluten, a protein in wheat. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Those with Celiac disease must eliminate gluten from their diet.

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Can eat…
Rice flour, buckwheat, cornflour, maize flour, flours from nuts/beans/seeds chickpeas, quinoa, and soya

Can’t eat…
Gluten-containing flours, including: Wheat, Barley Rye, Oat, Malt, Couscous
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