What are the Big 8 Allergens?


The Full Scoop on the Top Food Allergies

If you or someone in your family has struggled with food allergies before, chances are you’ve heard of “The Big 8.” This term is used to refer to the eight most common causes of food allergens that affect people in the U.S.

The Big 8 consist of

Dairy

Eggs

Peanuts

Tree Nuts

Fish

Shellfish

Wheat

Soy

Though there are over 160 known food allergens in total, the eight listed above account for over 90% of all allergic reactions to food.

Though it might seem easy to avoid these 8 major food allergens in your diet with a little effort, foods containing Big 8 ingredients are much more common than may you think and are sometimes difficult to identify at first glance.

The Big 8: The Most Common Food Allergies in Order

Use the chart below to quickly assess how common a specific Big 8 allergen is and which sometimes-unexpected foods you might encounter it in.

Allergen
Who’s Affected? 2-6% of children under the age of 6, 0.2-0.4% of the general population 2-4% of children under the age of 6, 0.2-0.4% of the general population 0.6-1.3% of the general population 0.4-0.6% of the general population 0.4% of the general population 1.2% of the general population 0.4-1% of children under 6, 0.4% of the general population 1-2% in children under 10
Unexpected Culprits Pudding, Caramel, Chocolate, Lunch Meats, Steaks Egg wash on baked goods, Foam topping on drinks, Macaroni, Marshmallows, Mayonnaise Egg rolls, pancakes, meat substitute products Breakfast cereals, energy bars, flavored coffee, Italian sausage Barbecue sauce, caesar dressing, worcestershire sauce Powdered spices, fish stock, fish sauce, soybean paste Soy Sauce, Vegetable Starch, Couscous, Semolina , Fried Foods, Beer, imitation crab Miso soup, Tofu, Edamame, Low Fat Peanut Butter, Canned Broths and Soups

Keep in mind that what you are allergic to may change throughout your life. Typically, children grow out of allergies associated with dairy, eggs, and wheat over time. However, it can work the opposite way as well. Sometimes, adults find themselves newly allergic to foods that previously didn’t affect them in a negative way.

Allergy prevalence levels also shift from time period to time period, depending on factors like food trends linked to childhood exposure levels, environmental factors, and evolutionary progress based on a culture’s hygiene standards. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention report that the prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011 alone!

So, with allergens lurking in most supermarket foods, how should you protect your family? Learn to read and interpret product labels!

How to Read Food Labels for Allergies

The Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires that all food products regulated by the FDA clearly indicates whether a product contains any of the Big 8 allergens through clear text onthe product package.

This is typically done by either including the potentially allergy-causing ingredient in the Ingredients list and identifying it by its common name (Ex: “Soy” instead of “Lecithin”), or by including a separate list of ingredients below the main one, and listing only potential allergens there to make sure their presence is emphasized.

perfectlyfree mango pineapple fruit snack nutrition facts

While examining the Ingredients list, you may also come across disclaimers that begin with “May contain…” or “Processed in a facility with….” While these statements are not regulated by the FDA, they should definitely not be ignored. Though foods with these disclaimers may not actually possess the allergen culprit in question, there is a high chance that their ingredients have been cross-contaminated with it. Meaning, if someone in your family is severely allergic to an ingredient, you should avoid foods that feature such statements in order to greatly minimize the risk of an allergic reaction.

Read more about understanding food labels with food allergies here.

The perfectlyfree® Promise

Luckily, all perfectlyfree® products are, well, just that!

Everything we make is Big 8 allergen-friendly, and processed in a dedicated free-from facility. That means that our facility is free-from gluten and the Big 8 allergens, with the exception of coconut. Ways that we ensure safety of consumers with our allergy-friendly products are regularly testing our ingredients, clearly labeling that coconut is present in our facility on packaging, and having both food allergy and gluten training for all employees. This all means you and your loved ones can enjoy our products and focus on the yumminess, not the potential hazards.

Read more about our Food Allergy commitment here.

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