Allergy Awareness

The information in this blog is the result of my own research into allergies.Some information is anecdotal but may be of use to other people trying to understand why it is that their body over-reacts to everyday substances.There will also be recipes added on a regular basis as I come up with alternatives to our favourite foods that we can't do without - Chocolate cake, pizza, nothing healthy! ;-)

Sainsburys first sulphite-free wine

Sainsburys has taken the first UK listing of a commercial wine made without the addition of sulphites. The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stellar Winery in South Africa will be part of Sainsbury's So Organic range. Priced at £4.99, it will be available from mid-March . (Ed. 2008)

For the full article read here - 

Posted by at Saturday, March 06, 2010 10:28 AM

Hidden Wheat Products


One of my allergies is wheat and although it is easy enough to avoid prepared foods that contain "wheat this" or "that wheat" there are some things which are just not as obvious. Although I am sure that this list is not complete these are some of the most commonly found ingredients that can be used in preprepared food in the UK which contain wheat.

  • Beer
  • Binder/Binding
  • Bread, Rye
  • Cereal
  • Cereal Binders
  • Cereal Protein
  • Couscous
  • Curry Powder
  • Dextrins
  • Edible Starch
  • Farina
  • Filler
  • Flour
  • Food Starch
  • Fu
  • Gum Base
  • Kamut
  • Lager
  • Liquorice
  • Miso
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Modified Starch
  • Monosodium Glutamate MSG
  • Mustard
  • Mustard Flour
  • Noodles
  • Pasta
  • Quorn
  • Rusk
  • Semolina
  • Soy Sauce
  • Special Edible Starch
  • Spelt
  • Starch
  • Suet
  • Thickener
  • Thickening
  • Vegetable Proteins

Wheat flour is also commonly used as an anti-caking agent. This is prevalent in Salt & Vinegar Crisp flavouring although I was okay with Salt & Vinegar Kettle Chips until I had to avoid Citric Acid too (Citric Acid can be derived from wheat starch or from citrus fruit)

The following are derivatives of wheat starch -

  • maltodextrin
  • glucose syrup
  • dextrose
  • sorbitol
  • mannitol
  • maltitol
  • xylitol
  • caramel colour
  • citric acid
Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 7:11 PM

Citric Acid Allergy


This is an interesting one. From the information I have been able to gather Citric Acid is commonly used as an acidity regulator. It can be produced either naturally from citrus fruit or it can be a derivative of wheat starch.

At the moment I have not been able to find any tinned tomatoes in the supermarket that do not contain Citric Acid. Most soft drinks also contain Citric Acid. In fact most products in the supermarket seem to contain Citric Acid.

Personally, Citric Acid (and citrus fruit) triggers my asthma, so I avoid it. The only tinned tomato product to date that I have found that does not use Citric Acid is a catering sized tin of "pizza base topping" which is made from 100% tomatoes (nothing else - woo hoo!)

As I react to both Citrus fruit and wheat I do not know which derivative I react to. What I do know is that Citric Acid is also known as Acidity Regulator E330.

To confuse matters further the health guide on Mutual Benefit Marketing has this to say

Food acid, naturally derived from citrus fruit, although commercial synthesis is by fermentation of molasses. It is used in food as an antioxidant as well as enhancing the effect of other antioxidants, and also as an acidity regulator. Present in virtually all plants, it was first isolated in 1784 from lemon juice, by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, and has been used as a food additive for over 100 years. Used in biscuits, canned fish, cheese and processed cheese products, infant formulas, cake and soup mixes, rye bread, soft drinks, fermented meat products. Damages tooth enamel. Most citric acid is produced from corn, manufacturers do not always take out the protein which can be hydrolysed and create MSG (621) causing reactions in MSG-sensitive people.

On my previous blog there were some interesting comments about this post left by some of the readers. I have taken the liberty of copying them here.

Nick (Visitor)
Monday, 09. Feb, 2009 @ 04:11:48
Citric acid triggers my asthma. It takes more than 2 cups of home made natural orange juice but even one piece of pizza that has citric acid added as preservatives creates problem for me. Today i ate ready to eat dinner. I thought citric acid is ok as preservative. But immediately after 20 minutes of eating dinner i am feeling mild asthmatic.

Kim Z (Visitor)
Tuesday, 14. Jul, 2009 @ 16:45:32
Depending upon my stress levels, I can have a citric acid reaction on a small amount of citric acid it seems. My skins burns from products including citric acid, particularly if I am not completely avoiding it in my food intake. In particular, I get a burning scalp from hair care products. They almost all have some short of fruit extract or something in them that causes me problems. I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for good shampoo and conditioner that I can use? I read the labels, but I still seem to react. I think citric acid is disguised as other things. ??

Michael (Visitor)
Friday, 17. Jul, 2009 @ 19:37:09
I think you may find that the allergy to artificai citric acid is to the bug/mould they make artificial citric acid with - it is aspergillus niger, traces of which can be left in the artificail citric acid. It is a kind of mould. I am allergic to the tiniest traces of this - getting asthma - but not to natural citric acid. From my understanding it would be difficult to be allergic to natural citric acid as all our bodies contain citric acid - we couldn't live without it. So the citrus fruit allergy you have may be an allergic reation to some other part of the citrus fruit - hence your different reactions.

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 6:00 PM

Allergens In Anti-Histamines


Since I've been trying to cut out everything I'm allergic to, I figured that I ought to change my anti-histamines so that I move onto one that is safe.

Strangely I have not been able to find an over the counter anti-histamine in either tablet or liquid form that does not have some form of potential allergen in it.

All the tablets that I have looked at are lactose based. Of all the liquid anti-histamines I have looked at only one does not contain Citric Acid, instead the Piriton syrup contains methyl, ethyl and propyl hydrobenzoates (E214, E216 and E218) - known asthma triggers.

I would have thought that common sense would kick in somewhere in the pharmaceutical industry and that somebody would produced a hypo-allergenic anti-histamine!

Thankfully, my milk allergy is to the proteins in milk not the sugars. This means that I am okay with the tablets. I'll be stuffed if I have to use the liquid anti-histamines though!

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 2:27 PM

Oak Smoke Flavouring Contains Phthalic Anhydride.


I bought some relatively harmless sounding Smoked Salmon as a treat for myself not thinking there would be much in that I could react to. The ingredients list was fairly simple: Salmon (97%), Salt, Sugar, Oak Smoke. I've never reacted to any type of fish so I was pretty taken aback when I started to swell around my mouth and face, broke out in welts and started to get breathless.

From investigating around the web I discovered that when Oak Smoke is listed as an ingredient it is because it is an added flavouring. Tests have been completed on aqueous oak smoke and it has been found to contain (amongst other things) Phthalic Anhydride.

Phthalic Anhydride is known to irritate the skin, eyes and upper respiratory system, in fact it's pretty nasty stuff -

From now on I'll be checking to make sure that if I am eating so-called smoked food it has actually been smoked and not just flavoured.

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 1:56 PM

Additives That Trigger Asthma


Benzoates and Sulphites are common triggers for asthma. They are widely used in the UK as preservatives in food. The following list is compiled from the Mutual Benefit Marketing Health Guide

  • E210 Benzoic acid
  • E211 Sodium benzoate
  • E212 Potassium benzoate
  • E213 Calcium benzoate
  • E214 Ethyl para-hydroxybenzoate
  • E215 Sodium ethyl para-hydroxybenzoate
  • E216 Propyl para-hydroxybenzoate
  • E217 Sodium propyl para-hydroxybenzoate
  • E218 Methyl para-hydroxybenzoate
  • E219 Sodium methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
  • E220 Sulphur dioxide
  • E221 Sodium sulphite
  • E222 Sodium hydrogen sulphite
  • E223 Sodium metabisulphite
  • E224 Potassium metabisulphite
  • E225 Potassium sulphite
  • E226 Calcium sulphite
  • E227 Calcium hydrogen sulphite
  • E228 Potassium hydrogen sulphite
  • E441 Gelatine
  • E539 Sodium thiosulphate (converts to sulphite and has similar side-effects)

It may seem a little strange that Gelatine is on that list as it is usually listed as an ingredient rather than an additive. However if you are sensitive to sulphites then you should be wary of eating anything with Gelatine in it as it can contain E220 (Sulphur Dixoide)

Other additives which can trigger asthma or cause breathing difficulties include


  • E102 Tartrazine
  • E104 Quinoline Yellow
  • E107 Yellow
  • E120 Cochineal (also carminic acid, ammonium carmine)
  • E122 Azorubine, Carmoisine
  • E124 Ponceau 4R, Cochineal Red A, Brilliant Scarlet 4R
  • E128 Red 2G
  • E129 Allura red AC
  • E132 Indigotine, Indigo carmine
  • E133 Brilliant blue FCF
  • E142 Green S
  • E151 Brilliant Black BN, Black PN
  • E155 (Chocolate) Brown HT
  • E160(b) Annatto, bixin, norbixin
  • E180 Lithol Rubine BK, Pigment Rubine

Other Additives

  • E413 Tragacanth
  • E414 Acacia Gum, Gum Arabic
  • E536 Potassium ferrocyanide
  • E621Monosodium L-glutamate (MSG)
  • E623 Calcium di-L-glutamate
  • E626 Guanylic acid
  • E627 Disodium guanylate
  • E628 Dipotassium guanylate, 5'-
  • E629 Calcium guanylate
  • E630 Inosinic acid
  • E631 Disodium inosinate
  • E632 Dipotassium inosinate
  • E633 Calcium inosinate
  • E634 Calcium 5'-ribonucleotides
  • E635 Disodium 5'-ribonucleotide, Sodium 5'-ribonucleotide
  • E928 Benzoyl peroxide
  • E930 Calcium peroxide

This is the list I manually extracted from hundreds of items. It is more than likely I have missed something, but at least it's a start!

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 1:18 PM

Can A Breastfed Baby Have Allergies?


Quite basically, yes, and they can have intolerances too.

Last time I was pregnant, my allergies/intolerances seemed to reduce in severity. Initially they got worse, then as the pregnancy progressed they improved and I didn't react anywhere near as violently as I had done previously - hence the drop in the blog submissions!

When my baby was 3-months old she had not stopped coughing, wheezing or having snuffly nose since she was born - so I started looking into the possibilty that she may have a dairy allergy. Not to my milk but to the few milk proteins that are passed on to her through my milk. I found out that other allergens which can be passed on through breastmilk are wheat, eggs, citrus and peanuts.

I rarely ate peanuts so it had to be something that I had in my diet every day. My egg allergy was disgnosed at 6 weeks old, so I went wheat, dairy and egg free again, in the hope that it would help clear up my snuffly baby.

An interesting article called "Milk: Does it Really Do a Body Good?" written by Dr Jay Gordon can be read at It is quite informative and discusses the contents of milk, symptoms of intolerances/dairy and reactions of breastfed babies to changes in the diet of their mother.

I still watch what I am eating as once my hormones levelled out after giving birth my allergies/intolerances returned, but at a level which I am more able to tolerate. I like this because it means once a week I cheat and eat something 'naughty', the next day I don't feel great but for the most part it's bearable and I can continue with life quite normally, for me!

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 10:16 AM