How to Read Ingredient Labels for Allergens - Cheat Sheet.

How to Read Ingredient Labels for Allergens - Cheat Sheet.

Jennie Lyon

How to Read Ingredient Labels to Check for Allergens

Do you know how to thoroughly read and understand food labels?

If your child suffers from eczema or allergies, understanding how to read food labels can make a significant difference in your overall comfort and quality of life. Ingesting know food allergies or food sensitivities can cause an eczema flare as well as an allergic reaction. Avoiding food allergies and known food sensitivities can give eczema relief for babies, toddlers, children and adults. It can also increase the effectiveness of the eczema treatment by removing the eczema triggers that contribute to the flare.

While there are some whole foods that you might recognize as an allergen like “milk” and “dairy”, there are many ingredients in packaged foods that are difficult to understand. A box of cereal or a frozen meal might seem safe, but it may actually contain a trigger food that could exacerbate eczema symptoms without you ever realizing the source of the problem.

There are food label regulations for major allergens that are clearly listed. These include:




Tree Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, etc.)


Fish, Crustaceans, Shellfish


Where these major food allergens are included, the label must, according to law in the United States, state “CONTAINS: XXX”

In these cases of major allergens, “wheat”, for example, must be clearly labeled for flour, either in the ingredient list or in the “contains” statement or both.

However, precautionary warnings like “may contain” are not necessarily required.

These regulations are meant to make it easier to read and understand food labels, however the system is not complete. There are allergens that are not considered “major” and so are not included on the list of allergens that must be declared.

It’s important to research and get to know alternate names for food allergens that are not considered “major”. Also, if you are traveling outside of the United States, remember that food labeling requirements vary by country so you’ll want to know alternate names for your food allergens.

Below is a list of food allergens and words to watch for that contain these allergens.


Egg, Albumin, Egg substitutes, Eggnog, Globulin, Lysozyme, Mayonnaise, Meringue, Ovalbumin, Ovovitellin, Surimi


Artificial Butter Flavor, Butter, Casein and Caseinates, Cheese, Cheese Flavor, Cream, Curds, Custard, Dactyl, Ghee, Half-and-half, Hydrolysates, Lactalbumin, Lactalbumin Phosphate, Lactoglobulin, Lactoferrin, Lactulose, Milk, Nougat, Rennet, Recaldent™, Simpless®, Sour Milk Solids, Tagatose, Whey, Yogurt


Artificial Nuts, Beer Nuts, Ground Nuts, Mixed Nuts, Nut Pieces, Nut Meat, Peanut Butter, Peanut Flour, Peanut Protein Hydrolysate, Peanut Oil

Tree Nuts

Almond, Artificial Nuts, Beechnut, Brazil Nut, Butternut, Cashew, Chestnut, Chinquapin Nut, Filbert, Gianduja, Ginkgo Nut, Hazelnut, Hickory Nut, Litchi/Lichee/Lychee Nut, Macadamia Nut, Marzipan, Nangai Nut, Natural Nut Extract, Nut Butters, Nut Meat, Nut Paste, Nut Pieces, Pecan, Pesto, Pili Nut, Pine Nut (Pignoli, Pigñolia, Pignon, Piñon, Pinyon Nut, Pistachio, Praline, Shea Nut, Walnut


Bread Crumbs, Bulgur, Cereal Extract, Club Wheat, Couscous, Cracker Meal, Durum, Einkorn, Emmer, Farina, Flour (All Purpose, Bread, Cake, Durum, Enriched, Graham, High Gluten, High Protein, Instant, Pastry, Self-rising, Soft Wheat, Steel Ground, Stone Ground, Whole Wheat), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Kamut®, Matzoh, Matzoh Meal (Matzo, Matzah, or Matza), Pasta, Seitan, Semolina, Spelt, Sprouted Wheat, Triticale, Vital Wheat Gluten, Wheat (Bran, Durum, Germ, Gluten, Grass, Malt, Sprouts, Starch), Wheat Bran Hydrolysate, Wheat Germ Oil, Wheat Grass, Wheat Protein Isolate, Whole Wheat Berries


Edamame, Bean Curd, Bean Sprouts, Miso, Natto, Shoyo Sauce, Soy (Fiber, Flour, Grits, Nuts, Sprouts), Soy (Milk, Yogurt, Ice Cream, Cheese), Soy Protein, Soy Sauce, Tamari, Tempeh, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Tofu (Soybean Curd)


Barnacle, Crab, Crawfish (Crawdad, Crayfish, Ecrevisse), Krill, Lobster (Langouste, Langoustine, Moreton Bay Bugs, Scampi, Tomalley), Prawns, Shrimp (Crevette, Scampi)

There are many other names and derivatives for foods from other categories of food allergen, from potato to corn to coconut. If you have allergies, be sure to do your research so that you’re familiar with all of the possible names associated with your allergen.

Also, we would love to hear your experience with food allergies/sensitivities and food labels.

Food allergen reference: Dallas Food Allergy Center