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The advice here is primarily written for parents of a child with a food allergy. However, most of it is also relevant if you're an adult with a food allergy.

Your child's diet

There's currently no cure for food allergies, although many children will grow out of certain ones, such as allergies to milk and eggs.

The most effective way you can prevent symptoms is to remove the offending food – known as an allergen – from their diet.

However, it's important to check with your GP or the doctor in charge of your child's care first before eliminating certain foods.

Removing eggs or peanuts from a child's diet isn't going to have much of an impact on their nutrition. Both of these are a good source of protein, but can be replaced by other, alternative sources.

A milk allergy can have more of an impact as milk is a good source of calcium, but there are many other ways you can incorporate calcium into your child's diet, including green leafy vegetables. Many foods and drinks are fortified with extra calcium.

See your GP if you're concerned that your child's allergy is affecting their growth and development.

Reading labels

It's very important to check the label of any pre-packed food or drinks your child has in case it contains ingredients they're allergic to.

Under EU law, any pre-packed food or drink sold in the UK must clearly state on the label if it contains the following ingredients:

Some food manufacturers also choose to put allergy advice warning labels – for example, "contains nuts" – on their pre-packed foods if they contain an ingredient known to commonly cause an allergic reaction, such as peanuts, wheat, eggs or milk.

However, these aren't compulsory. If there's no allergy advice box or "contains" statement on a product, it could still have any of the 14 specified allergens in it.

Look out for "may contain" labels, such as "may contain traces of peanut". Manufacturers sometimes put this label on their products to warn consumers that they may have become contaminated with another food product when being made.

Read more detailed information about allergen labelling on the Food Standards Agency website.

Some non-food products contain allergy-causing food:

Again, read the labels of any non-food products your child may come into close physical contact with.

Unpackaged food

Currently, unpackaged food doesn't need to be labelled in the same way as packaged food. This can make it more difficult to know what ingredients are in a particular dish.

Examples of unpackaged food include food sold from:

If you or your child have a severe food allergy, you need to be careful when you eat out.

The following advice should help:

Further advice

Here's some more advice for parents: 

Can food allergies be prevented?

It used to be thought that avoiding eating peanuts during pregnancy and when breastfeeding could help reduce the risk, but this theory has now been questioned.

There's some evidence that introducing peanuts early in life may reduce the risk of peanut allergy, but this may not apply to all children and requires confirmation from further studies.

It's important to follow the standard recommendations for pregnancy and breastfeeding, whether or not you have a family history of food allergies.

For more information, see: