Cereals are edible grains or seeds. Grain and pseudo-grain foods can be made from wheat, oats, rice, rye, barley, millet, quinoa, corn(maize), buckwheat, amaranth and chia. New grains are being introduced all the time.
The application of cereals in food production is vast. Different grains can be eaten whole, ground into cereal foods like bread, pasta and noodles or ready to eat breakfast cereals. The grain can also be manipulated such as in refined or multi-grain products like baking powder and flour.
Additionally it can be processed into by-products such as syrups and oils. It is used in vinegar, beer distillation and alcohol production. It can be found in a multitude of baked foods like cakes, desserts and biscuits. Furthermore they are present in various coatings, condiments and sauce/sauce mixes, i.e. breadcrumbs, batters, stock, spices and casseroles. The examples here are not exhaustive.
If allergic, intolerant to cereals or diagnosed with coeliac disease than it is likely a reaction to gluten. Gluten is a mixture of proteins commonly present in cereals particularly wheat, rye and barley. However it is wise to exercise caution with all cereal foods.
Crustaceans are a type of shellfish. They are a marine animal with no backbone whose body is normally housed in a hard, segmented, outer shell and they possess jointed limbs. Examples of crustaceans are crab, lobster, scampi/langoustines, crayfish, shrimp, prawn and krill.
They can be hidden in many menu items such as medleys in salads and pizza toppings. They can also be concealed in breadcrumbs and batter. They are prepared in many forms of Asian cooking such as prawn fried rice and sushi and sauces like oyster and Worcestershire. Additionally they are a main ingredient in paella. It would be wise to become familiar with fish-based stews and soups like seafood chowder and be suspicious of foods that could be cooked in the same oil or batter.
Be attentive to the possibility of cross contamination. This is when fish free foods come into contact with fish proteins/allergens. Shellfish proteins that lead to allergic reactions are resilient and can still be present in vapours and oils after food preparation. Extra precautions may be advisable such as separate cooking utensils and effective cleaning.
Eggs are unfertilised bird embryos surrounded by a protective calcium based outer shell casing. The consumption of eggs is prehistoric. The most widely consumed eggs are those laid by chickens.
Eggs are also used extensively in cookery. Egg allergies should be managed individually as the form the allergy takes varies. For instance individuals who are allergic to raw eggs may not react to a well-cooked egg. This is thought to be because the egg protein is altered by heat and therefore the likelihood of a reaction is reduced.
If allergic to chicken eggs then it is probable that an allergy to other bird eggs is present. Examples are duck, goose and quail. Because of how commonplace eggs are in the diet care should be taken with manufactured and prepared foods. Examples of egg dishes and egg based foods are egg pasta/noodles, omelette, meringue, chocolate bars and sweets, quiche, lemon curd, mayonnaise and similar, horseradish sauce, even some cheeses. Fortunately there are a whole host of suitable egg free substitutes. For instance mashed banana, ground flaxseeds, tofu or buttermilk.
Fish are vertebrates, meaning they have a back bone. Most have fins, are covered in scales and breath with gills. They live abundantly in saltwater and freshwater habitats. The amount of edible or culinary varieties of fish is vast. Some examples are anchovy, mackerel, cod, trout, eel, tuna, haddock, salmon, sardine and seabass. Seafood is a collective term for fish and shellfish.
Shellfish is further divided into crustaceans and molluscs. Some fish based dishes are identifiable whilst others may be hidden. Asian cuisine predominantly uses fish. They can be mixed with other foods or blended into stocks and sauces such as prawn fried rice and sushi. Fish is a popular component of many rice dishes such as risotto or paella.
Fish can be fried in batter or baked in breadcrumbs such as tempura, scampi and fish fingers. It can also be a major component of stews, casseroles and soups such as fish pie or bouillabaisse. In paste or spread form, it is consumed on as a dip or on crackers or toasts, like pate, taramasalata and caviar. Small fish or portions of fish can be added to pizza toppings and salads. Sauces that contain fish can be added to dishes such as stir fry.
It is safer to avoid all types of fish to avoid the risk of direct or indirect cross contamination. This is when fish free food comes into contact with fish proteins/allergens. This can happen through food preparation and processing. For highly sensitive individuals, symptoms can occur through consumption, inhalation and handling fish. Fish allergens are highly robust and may not be broken down by high temperatures. That can still be present after cooking. Furthermore they can become airborne in cooking vapours and transfer to the oil used to cook them.
The possibility of cross contamination can be reduced to some extent by the use of separate cooking utensils and effective cleaning. Be attentive to histamine fish poisoning. This is the consumption of fish which is poorly handled and stored. The symptoms of this condition can mimic an allergic reaction. Seek medical attention as soon as an allergic reaction is suspected.
Peanuts are also known as a groundnut or monkey nut. They share characteristics with tree nuts but are actually classed as a legume from the pea/bean family. They are grown for their dried fruit or edible seed within their shell. They have a similar taste and nutritional profile to tree nuts however their shell does not harden and resembles the shape of a pod.
Their uniqueness continues as they are the only legume to grow underground. Most of the world knows peanuts as a dried snack. The majority are familiar with the paste/spread, peanut butter. They are also used in confectionary and bakery products such as chocolate bars, granola bars and croissants. They are highly favoured for their high oil content.
Peanut oil is particularly prominent in Asian, Indian, African and Latin American cuisine. Peanut allergies normally present in childhood. Sufferers should definitely be aware of the likelihood of cross-contamination particularly in snacks and dried foods. This is when nut-free food makes contact with even the tiniest trace of nut protein. Work surfaces and utensils should be effectively cleansed and ideally separate containers should be used to avoid allergic reaction.
Additionally it is advisable to read food packaging carefully and avoid all foods with "may contain" warnings. Refined products should be used with caution as extent of refinement is unknown. It is not uncommon for sufferers to be allergic to tree nuts or to possess multiple allergies. This is due to other allergens which share similar properties such as lupin and sesame. Peanuts are not the only food to have a confusing name which does not necessarily identify the food fully. For instance coconut, water chestnut and butternut squash are not from the peanut or tree nut families.
Soybeans or soya beans or soya are a species of legume. They are classed as an oilseed not a pulse as with most members of the legume family. The Edamame bean is an immature soybean. They have many uses and are hard to restrict from the diet. They can be consumed whole or processed into oil, flour and paste.
Additionally they are processed into unfermented foods such as soy milk which is used to make tofu. Fermented forms include soy sauce. Fat-free soybean meal is used in many packaged meals. Soybean vegetable oil is used in cooking and processed foods. Soy flour is prepared through many methods to produce bread, cakes and biscuits.
The soybean product Textured Vegetable Protein, (TVP), is an ingredient in many meat and dairy substitutes like margarine, ice-cream, yoghurt, cheese, vegetable burgers and sausages. It can be processed to make agents which thicken sauces, prevent the staling of food, reduce oil absorption during frying and stabilising foods which contain water and fat. These are known as protein fillers and emulsifiers.
Soybeans are a common part of the diet in China, Japan and Korea. They are used in a variety of dishes from soups to seasonings. They can be used in the fermentation process during the manufacture of Vodka and if dried and roasted, serve as a coffee substitute. Allergies to soybeans commonly develop in childhood. It is essential to understand the extent of the allergy on an individual basis so as to not unnecessarily restrict the diet. Please note that the list of soy-based foods is extensive and is present in even baby food and commercial fruit products. Finally it is rare to be allergic to more than one member of the legume family.
Milk is extracted from farm animals during or soon after pregnancy. Dairy products are derived from this milk. Cow milk is used primarily, however presently dairy products are made from other mammals such as goats and sheep. Milk is processed into foods such as cream, butter, yoghurt, ice cream, cheese, condensed and powdered milk. It is also processed to make many food additives and dietary supplements such as casein, lactose and whey protein.
Other examples of fermented dairy products are sour cream, crème fraiche, buttermilk, villi, kefir and kumis. Condensed milk is used for many dessert dishes. It is normally sweetened and some of the water content has been removed to give it a thicker and creamier consistency. It is stored in cans which means it can last many years without refrigeration. Likewise evaporated milk has some of the water content removed but it is not sweetened. Milk is often added to breakfast cereals and served in hot beverages such as tea, coffee, cappuccino and cafe latte.
Examples of dessert items are frozen yoghurt, sherbert, fromage frais, rice pudding and custard. Custard is a cooked mixture of milk/cream and egg yolk. It is also added to foods such as pancakes, pasta, crisps, soups, gravy, baby food and mashed potatoes. Dairy can also be found in some probiotic drinks like Actimel and Yakult. Lactose intolerance is where the individual is deficient in the enzyme lactase which breaks down lactose. People experience symptoms such as bloating, cramps, diarrhoea or constipation. The condition can be managed by consuming lactose free foods and non dairy products such as almond, coconut, soy, and rice milk. For some the intolerance may be dose related meaning they may be able to tolerate small amounts such as when it is added to hot beverages.
A milk allergy affects a small portion of infants. Most children outgrow the sensitivity by 5 years old and a milk allergy in adolescents and adults is uncommon. Milk is an important part of the diet containing many proteins, vitamins and minerals essential for growth and the maintenance of bone and dental health. As with other allergies it is wise to seek medical and specialist advice and remember to check food labelling carefully and perhaps consult a dietician.
Tree nuts in most cases, grow from trees. There are slight variations. Almonds are seeds from a drupe fruit. Drupes are fruits with a stone. Cashews are an accessory of a drupe fruit, the nut is attached to the bottom of the fruit. A brazil nut is one of a group of seeds from a capsule.
A macadamia is the kernel of a follicle type fruit. The walnut is a very hard seed of a drupe fruit with a fleshy husk. Most nuts do not open at maturity. Hazelnuts, chestnuts and acorns have hard outer shell walls. Pistachios are an exception and they are partly dehiscent (open) when they are ripe and they have thin shells. A new addition to the tree nut family is Shea nut which is used to make butter or oil.
Tree nuts are a common ingredient in many different types of cuisine such as Asian, Chinese and Indian. They are a major component of or an addition to many baked goods such as biscuits, pastries, cakes and baking products such as marzipan. They can be used to flavour ice cream such as pistachio and almond. Cereals contain tree nuts such as honey nut cornflakes and muesli. Similarly they are added to cereal bars. Tree nuts can be a part of desserts, butters, milks, snacks, spreads, and a whole host of confectionary. Nuts are found in pesto, a sauce typically served with pasta. They are also added to salads. It is most common to develop a tree nut allergy before the age of 5.
It is also possible to develop symptoms in adolescents and adults even when the tree nut has been consumed before without a reaction. This allergy tends to be persistent and does not reduce over time. There is an increased probability that individuals with a peanut allergy will also be allergic to tree nuts and related seeds. This is due to cross reactivity where tree nut proteins share similar characteristics with peanuts and other seeds. A tree nut allergy does not necessarily result in the development of a peanut allergy. However there is a higher chance of being allergic to more than one tree nut.
If an allergy is suspected, medical advice should be sought. Individually tailored dietary advice can be provided. It is safer to avoid all foods labelled with the precautionary “may contain nuts” warning. Be aware of the presence of nut oils. Some vegetable oils may contain traces of tree nuts so read labels carefully. Refined oils have reduced nut protein content so it is unlikely they will cause a reaction. Unrefined oils which are cold pressed or unprocessed should be avoided. This could be almond or walnut oil.
Sufferers are also at risk from cross contamination. This is when nut-free food comes into contact with nut proteins/allergens. This could happen through manufacturing, storage or food preparation. Even tiny traces can be harmful. Ensure effective cleaning, use separate containers and always use clean and dedicated utensils. Businesses which sell and serve food are required by law to provide food allergen information. An allergy should be highlighted by the consumer. If in doubt, speak to the person preparing the food.
Celery is a green marshland plant. It has a long fibrous stalk which tapers in to leaves. Another variety of this plant is known as celeriac or celery root. It is cultivated as a vegetable. It can be consumed raw, are added to salads and used to flavour soups, stews and pot roasts. It can be used as a garnish and the leaves if dried are used in cooking to provide a mild spicy flavour.
This dried form can be sprinkled onto baked, fried or roasted fish and meat. Celery appears most commonly in Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine and is often used with other ingredients as a base in French soups. In Asia it is prepared as a pickled side dish. Celery also bears seeds which can be used as a flavouring or spice. In particular the seeds, root or leaves are mixed with salt and then used as seasoning in food or even cocktails such as the Bloody Mary.
Celery allergens/proteins are not destroyed at cooking temperatures. The root contains more allergen content than the stalk but the content found in the seeds is higher still. Be observant of “may contain” warnings on food labelling as there is a risk of cross-contamination. This means that celery-free foods can come into contact with celery proteins during the production process and the preparation of food. Ensuring the effective cleaning of and the use of separate utensils, cooking equipment and containers is highly advisable. Be aware of a cross-reaction known as Pollen Food Syndrome. Hay fever sufferers in this instance react to allergens in raw fruit and vegetables in the same manner as they react to pollen. If the food is thoroughly cooked the likelihood of a reaction is minimal.
Mustard refers to the plant known as mustard plant, a member of the Brassica/Cruciferae family.It is not to be confused with mustard tree which bears purple fruit. The cabbage, raddish, turnip, broccoli and brussels-sprout are close relatives. The mustard plant bears a fruit pod which contains an oily seed known as the mustard seed. The plant also has edible leaves called mustard greens.
Some examples are Mostaza and Kai Choi. In most instances these greens are either sautéed or added to salads. The mustard seed is most commonly used as a spice. The pungent aroma and flavour comes from the essential oil present called sinalbin. The mustard plant is native to Asia, Canada, India, China and Europe. The type of mustard plant grown varies and therefore so too the culinary use of the mustard seed. There are approximately 40 varieties of mustard plant but the 3 most cultivated are black, brown and white. The mustard seed can be kept whole, ground, cracked or pressed then mixed normally with water and vinegar and other ingredients to create the distinctive often yellow coloured condiment known as prepared mustard.
The recipe differs depending on geographic location. The seed can be blended into a paste that is used in salad dressings, vinaigrettes, pickles, sandwiches, hotdogs and mayonnaise. The seed if pressed only becomes mustard oil which contributes to pastes, sauces and oils used in cooking. The powdered form is used in soups, sauces, stock, seasonings, flavourings and marinades. In these many forms mustard is added to numerous processed foods such as deli meats, chutney, curry sauce and pretzels. Heat strength can be indicated such as mild or hot and this depends on the mustard seed combination used.
Mustard is considered a hidden allergen and its presence in foods is not always obvious. It is highly worthwhile to examine ingredients labelling carefully. It can affect people of any age. An allergy can also occur when there is a cross-reaction between allergens, in this case pollen and food. Mugwort-mustard allergy syndrome is when a person becomes sensitive to a weed called mugwort. Although quite rare, hay fever sufferers can have an allergic reaction to foods from the Brassica/Cruciferae family.
Sesame is a flowering plant mostly cultivated in India and Africa. It is one of the oldest oilseed crops bearing the highest oil content of any seed. It is a common ingredient in cuisines worldwide. The sesame fruit is a capsule which naturally splits to release seeds. The seed is sometimes sold in bulk with the seed coat removed. This variety is often present on top of baked goods such as hamburger buns and bagels. Sesame oil produced from the roasted seed is an important element of Japanese cuisine. It has rich, nutty flavour. It is sprinkled on sushi style foods, as a condiment or added to flavour soups and hot dishes.
It is used to marinate meat and blended with other oils for deep frying. Sesame is also used extensively in Indian cuisine. Ground sesame powder enhances the flavour of food. Sesame oil is used as a preservative and to temper the heat of spicy foods, pickles and condiments. The seeds are added to balls or bars similar to peanut brittle. Popular sesame products are hummus, tahni and halare which are sometimes added to other foods. With this allergy it is wise to consult medical and specialist advice.
Sesame is the most common allergy, however reactions to pumpkin or poppy seeds is also possible. Cross reactivity exists between sesame and peanut, also rye, kiwi, poppy seeds and various tree nuts. This is because all the allergens/proteins share similar characteristics. For this reason sufferers may possess multiple allergies. Due to manufacturing and marketing methods pre-packed and processed products may contain traces of sesame. Likewise with unwrapped and unlabelled baked goods sold over the counter there is an increased risk of cross contamination. This is when sesame free foods can come into contact with sesame allergens. This could be foods such as rice dishes, crackers, noodles, dips, chutneys, dressings, mixed spices, spreads and confectionary. In relation to contamination Sesame is often masked in restaurant foods such as stir fries and curries. Sesame oil which retains it allergenic properties after processing is popular with Asian chefs as it resists rancidity.
Restaurants may also use pre-prepared meals for convenience and these may not have a full list of ingredients. Additionally cooking oils may be reused. If in doubt the presence of an allergy should be expressed and the person preparing food consulted. In most cases there will practices in place to reduce cross contamination such as thorough cleansing and the use of separate utensils. Quite unexpectedly sesame can be found in certain herbal drinks like Aqua Libra. If partial to foreign foods sesame is known under a host of different names such as benne, simsim and gingelly. Individuals with a mild allergy may be able to consume baked goods topped with sesame as the allergen is only released when the seed is squashed or broken. This normally only happens through the production of foods containing Sesame.
Sulphur or sulphites are preservatives are used in production of food and drinks. They prevent the food from going sour or rancid which makes it inedible or inconsumable. Additionally sulphur is employed in the production of wine. It controls the fermentation process to also avoid the wine becoming sour. Examples of sulphur based foods include pickled foods and vinegars, grape juice, bottled lemon or lime juice, beer, cider, vegetable juices, soft drinks, condiments, guacamole, dried fruit, dehydrated, pre-cut or peeled potatoes, processed meats and fresh or frozen prawns.
The following food additives contain sulphur: E220 through to E228, E150b and E150d. Food labelling rules require foods which contain sulphites above 10mg per kg/litre to be clearly labelled. An allergy to sulphur is rare. People with Asthma or allergic rhinitis may experience allergy like symptoms. When sulphur is consumed it releases sulphur dioxide. It is though that the gas is released when sulphur based foods come into contact with stomach acid. Some of the gas could be dispersed back into the airways causing irritation and constriction. Other allergic symptoms could be itching, diarrhoea and vomiting. If in doubt about sulphur content seek advice. If an allergy is suspected consult a medical professional.
The lupin/lupini bean is a seed from flowering plants in the legume family. This plant produces pods which contain several seeds which are flat, oval and yellowish in colour. They are cultivated particularly in North and South America, North Africa and Mediterranean countries.
They are commonly sold in jars either in a salty solution or pickled. They can be eaten with or without their skin. They are used in a variety of sweet and savoury foods. In Mediterranean countries and Latin America they are a popular snack consumed with beer. There are different varieties which vary according to their level of bitterness. They are a key ingredient in animal free, milk and meat substitutes. Gluten/Soy free or genetically modified ingredients may contain lupin. Some examples would be lupin flakes, lupin tofu and lupin which is ground to make flour. It is added to wheat flour to enhance the flavour.
Lupin shares similar properties with peanuts and sesame and therefore the development of allergies is the same. The allergy normally becomes apparent in childhood and sufferers may possess multiple allergies due to similar characteristics of allergens. This is called cross-reactivity. Extreme caution should be exercised with snacks, dried foods and unlabelled over the counter products. Cross-contamination should be avoided. lupin free foods should not come into contact with lupin proteins. This can be achieved through close scrutiny of ingredients labels, using separate containers and effective cleaning of utensils and work surfaces. As with nuts, lupin can be found in baked goods such as granola bars with dried fruits.
Following this trend it can be found in cereal, muesli, cornmeal, dried fruits and vegetables, dehydrated fish and potato products. Additionally it may be contained within deli meats, particularly sausages, canned fruit and vegetables, fruit fillings and other preserves, noodle and rice mixes, soy products, dressings, soups, sauces and gravies. As each allergy is individual it is best to seek medical and dietary advice.
Molluscs are shellfish. They are a marine, freshwater and land animal with soft bodies and no back bone. In most cases they possess an exterior shell. However there are some members of the mollusc family where the shell is internal or absent. The gastropod class have an exterior shell of varying density with a soft body within. There are two main types of gastropods, the first being land snails such as escargot and helix snails.
The second are marine snails such as abalone, limpets, periwinkles, conches, rock snails and whelks. The bivalve class normally have a soft body entirely enclosed within a two-part hinged shell. However there are some members which are entirely exposed without a shell. Some bury themselves or attach themselves to rocks and other hard surfaces, some can swim.
Examples of bivalves are mussels, clams, scallops, cockles and oysters. Polyplacaphora possess soft bodies with a distinctive shell that consists of overlapping plates that resembles a coat of mail. These shell plates can articulate for movement and curl up around the body for protection. This class are generally known as chitons. The cephalopod class usually have a prominent head, a set of tentacles and can squirt ink. Examples are squid (calamari), octopus and cuttlefish.
Like other types of seafood, molluscs are added to a wide variety of cuisines, particularly Asian. They may be served alone although they are often found in stews, soups, sauces and rice dishes. Furthermore they could be concealed in salad and pizzas or covered in breadcrumbs or batter. Abalone is prepared in numerous Sushi dishes. Limpets can be consumed raw or lightly cooked. Be aware of foods that could be cooked in the same batter or oil. The principles of cross contact should apply as all seafood proteins are robust. Extra precautions like separate utensils and thorough cleaning are necessary as cooking vapours and oils can still be present after preparation and can result in allergic reactions.