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What are the Most Common Food Allergies?

woman refusing a bowl of peanuts

Around one in every five Australians experience an allergy during their lives. Food allergies, in particular, occur in around 10% of infants, 4-8% of children, and roughly about 2% of adults in Australia and New Zealand.

While almost any food can cause an allergic reaction, certain food items are responsible for most food allergies.

woman refusing a bowl of peanuts

Most Common Food Allergies in Australia

The primary allergenic foods that account for approximately 90% of all food allergies in Australia are as follows:

  • Dairy

    Includes milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.

  • Eggs

    Includes mayonnaise, eggnog, meringue, and some pasta and salad dressings.

  • Fish

    Includes some types of pizza toppings, garnishes, sauces and soups.

  • Crustacean Shellfish

    Includes shrimps, prawns, crabs and lobsters that can also be found in pizza toppings, garnishes, sauces and soups.

  • Tree Nuts

    One of the most potent allergens in the list. Includes Brazil nuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and walnuts.

  • Legumes

    Includes chickpea, lentils, lupin grain, peanuts, and peas.

  • Cereals and Grains

    Includes wheat, barley, oats, corn, rice, and rye.

  • Soybean

    Includes edamame, miso, natto, soy sauce, and soy-based products (milk, flour, oil etc.).

  • Sesame Seeds

    Includes some biscuits, breads, satay sauces and muesli.


While there is a possibility for children to outgrow food allergies, specific allergies—namely tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish and seeds— are often lifelong conditions.

Several of these problem foods are often used in processed products, which is why food allergen labelling is crucial. According to Australian and New Zealand regulations, allergens must be declared whenever they are present in food as ingredients, additives, or processing aids to reduce the risk of exposure and prevent severe allergic reactions.

Exposure to Allergens — Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can range from mild to moderate symptoms, including swelling of the face, lips or eyes, hives, abdominal pain and vomiting. However, allergens can also trigger a severe, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include difficulty in breathing or talking, swelling of the tongue or throat, hoarse voice, wheezing, dizziness, or even collapsing.

Managing Food Allergies

There is no cure for allergies. Anyone with a food allergy must strictly avoid the trigger foods and learn how to handle an allergic emergency should it occur. Here are some tips on food allergy management:

  • Always read and understand food labels.
  • When dining out, tell the wait staff of your allergens.
  • Be careful of cross-contamination of allergens when preparing food.
  • If you are at risk of anaphylactic reactions, have an adrenaline injector (if prescribed) and ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis ready at all times. The action plan provides instructions for first aid treatment of anaphylaxis.
  • Ask for guidance from a dietitian or allergy specialist.

How Dietetics Can Help with Food Allergy Management

Dietitians can help provide tailored, comprehensive diet and nutrition advice to support people with food allergies, intolerances, and insensitivities. At Acacia Well-Being, through thorough assessments and consultations, our dietitians can create a personalised plan that includes foods to avoid, fantastic meal substitutes, management tips, and practical advice to keep your health in optimal condition for the long term.

If you’re struggling with managing food allergies and need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for our individualised professional dietetics solutions. Give us a call at 1300 800 993 or contact us through our online enquiry form today.

We are continuing to provide all services with additional precautions in place to safeguard the health and well-being of our clients, staff and the community. We are pleased to offer appointments with our Counselling team, Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist either face-to-face (wearing appropriate face masks), or via telehealth with secure video and phone consultations available. Remedial Massage therapy is able to continue under our COVID Safe Management Plan. To make an appointment please call us on 1300 800 993, send us a message, or book online.