Grocery shopping can be a challenging experience for parents of a child with a newly diagnosed food allergy. Many packaged foods contain common food allergens that are not always obvious. It is, therefore, important that you always check the ingredients list before purchasing foods for your child. This process is made a little easier by legislation in Australia and New Zealand that requires companies to state on their label if the product contains common food allergens1.
When shopping for a child with allergy, it is important to keep in mind the following2:
- Ingredients for processed and packaged foods regularly change – always check the labels, even if you have purchased the product previously.
- Food allergens that must be listed on food labels include peanuts, tree nuts, cow’s milk (dairy), egg, soy, fish, shellfish, sesame and gluten. The source of the gluten, for example wheat, should also be declared.
- The labelling of less common allergens like rice and potato is not mandatory.
- Some foods are at risk of cross contamination with food allergens, which means these foods may come in contact with a food allergen during processing or manufacturing. Cross contamination can happen at any time during production, preparation or at point of purchase. Examples of how this can occur include the use contaminated utensils at a deli counter or shared manufacturing lines in a bakery. If you are concerned about cross contamination, we suggest you contact the manufacturer for more information.
- It is important to be assertive. If you are unsure if the food is suitable for your child, do not let them eat it!
Find out more on how to shop for specific food allergies
- Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code. 2016. Standard 1.2.3. Information Requirements- warning statements, advisory statements and declarations. Federal Register of Legislation. Viewed 21 June 2016. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016C00481
- 2014. Dietary avoidance general information. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Viewed 21 June 2016. http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/ascia-dietary-avoidance-for-food-allergy