Food allergy and intolerance

Disclaimer: This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained here is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.
Some people are allergic to certain foods. If they eat them, their immune system responds in a specific way that can cause mild discomfort or be life-threatening.

Many people are intolerant of certain foods. They can experience unpleasant similar symptoms to an allergy but are often able to eat small amounts of the food concerned without having an extreme reaction.

The most common food allergies and intolerances are to gluten, eggs, nuts and seeds, milk and soya.



  • Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley, plus some people react to a similar protein in oats.

  • Vegetarians who avoid gluten need to get a good mix of gluten-free grains like corn, millet, rice, quinoa and buckwheat.

  • Quorn™ and many processed vegetarian foods like burgers and sausages contain gluten.

  • Food labels should say whether a product contains gluten.


  • Egg allergies are most common in babies but most children who are allergic to eggs grow out of it.

  • All pre-packaged food must say on the label if it contains egg.

  • Eggs are a good source of vegetarian protein but there are many others.


Nuts and Seeds

  • Most people with a nut allergy react to peanuts, brazils, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans.

  • Peanuts are also known as groundnuts or monkey nuts.

  • People who are allergic to peanuts are often also allergic to sesame seeds; the main ingredient in tahini.



  • Lactose intolerance is a reaction to the sugar in milk, usually affecting older children and adults.

  • Milk allergy is more common in children, but most children outgrow it by the age of three.

  • If you think your child may be allergic to milk, talk to your doctor or health visitor before making any dietary changes.

  • Alternatives to dairy products include fortified soya milk, soya yoghurts and vegan cheese.



  • Tofu and soya milk are made from soybeans.

  • Some people with a soya allergy do not react to products made with fermented soya like tempeh, shoyu and miso.

  • Soya is widely used in processed vegetarian foods, especially meat substitutes, so it is important to read ingredients labels.

  • Soya is a good source of vegetarian protein (link) but there are many others.


Find out more

In-depth factsheetsYou can find out more about allergies and intolerances, as well as diagnosis, by reading the in-depth allergy and intolerance fact sheet.


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