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, the types of food you will find them in and tips on finding alternatives.
1. Tree nuts
Some people are allergic to tree nutes and/or peanuts. Tree nuts include Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Pistachios, Pine nuts, Macadamia nuts and Chestnuts. These can be commonly found in sauces, desserts, crackers, bread, ice cream, marzipan, ground almonds and nut oils.
Nut Substitutes: Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Oatmeal and Crisp rice cereal.
An allergic response to peanuts can occur within minutes after exposure. Peanuts are often found in sauces, cakes, desserts, groundnut oil, peanut flour and peanut butter. Make sure you have an indemnity on your menu if you use nuts in your kitchen!
Peanut Oil Substitutes: Almond, Walnut, Sesame
3. Cow’s milk
Cow’s milk is present in yoghurt, cream, cheese, butter, milk powders and foods glazed with milk. If a recipe allows for it, substitute milk with water, soy milk or fruit juice in sweet recipes. However, guests allergic to milk may also be allergic to soy, so do take note of that when using these substitutes.
Cow's Milk Substitutes: Soy Milk, Rice Milk, Oat Milk
4. Crustaceans or Shellfish
Examples of crustaceans include: shrimp, prawns, crab, lobster, and crayfish. Traces of allergens found in such crustaceans can also be found in shrimp paste.
Shellfish Substitute: Smoked fish (the stronger the flavour, the better).
Ingredients like tofu or beancurd, soya flour and textured soya protein are made from soybeans. As such, traces of soybean can be found in some ice cream, sauces, desserts, meat products and even vegetarian products.
Soybeans Substitutes: Rice flour & Canola oil
Eggs are used in the preparation of most cakes, mousses, sauces, pasta, quiche, as well as some meat products and mayonnaise. It is also sometimes used as a finishing sheen for some pastries.
Egg Substitute: Mashed Banana (Baking), Crumbled Tofu (Savoury).
Fish is present in some salad dressings, pizzas, relishes and sauces such as fish sauce, Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
Sauce (with fish in) Substitutes: Use mayonnaise as the base for dressings and fresh ingredients to flavour the dish.
Wheat is one of the most predominant allergens. It is commonly found in foods containing flour such as bread, pasta, cakes, pastry, meat products, sauces, soups, batter, stock cubes, breadcrumbs as well as in foods dusted with flour.
Wheat Substitutes: 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 if consumed.
What can people with lactose intolerance eat?
Soy milk, soy yoghurt, rice milk and dairy-free cheeses such as soy cheese (note: soy is also an allergen).
What can’t they eat?
Cow’s, sheep, goat’s (or any type of mammals’) milk, some cheeses, dairy desserts, ice cream, butter, cheese and natural yoghurt.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten intolerance is caused by the body’s inability to break down gluten, a protein found in wheat, also known as celiac disease. It is an autoimmune disease and those diagnosed with it should try to eliminate gluten from their diets.
People with gluten intolerance can eat…
Rice flour, buckwheat, cornflour, maize flour and flours that are made from nuts, beans, seeds, chickpeas, quinoa, and soya.
They can’t eat…
Gluten-containing flours, including: wheat, barley, rye, oat, malt and couscous.
Free Allergen Guide
Get a free allergen guide with the most common allergens and recipe substitutes.