The BIG 9

The BIG 8 Heading- mage

Approximately 90% of food allergy reactions occur to one of eight common foods in the U.S.1 Called “The Big 9” these foods include: Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat and soy. Although these are the most commonly allergenic foods, more than 160 different foods have been indicated in food allergy reactions.1 Any food can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction to food allergens. Strict avoidance of the offending food is recommended to prevent potentially life-threatening reactions by those with food allergies. For information on responding to a food allergy reaction, visit our FAQ page.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 requires that any intentional use of the Big 9 foods be clearly labeled on food labels.1 These foods must be listed by their common name and may be included in the ingredients list or separately in a “contains” statement. Precautionary labeling, however, such as “may contain” or “processed in a facility with,” is voluntary and is not regulated or required. Product formulations can change, so labels should be read every time to ensure that packaged foods do not contain the allergenic food to be avoided.

Milk-in-glass2 Eggs2 Peanuts2 Tree-nuts2  

Fish2 Crustacean-Shellfish2 Wheat-Productsl2 Soy2 sesame2

Big 8 References Review a complete list of references.


The Big 8 Food Allergen: MilkCow’s milk allergy is the most common food allergy among children, affecting about 2-3% of children, although many children will outgrow their allergy before school age.2,3 However, recent research indicates that children who have milk allergy may be less likely to outgrow their allergy than they were in previous decades.2  

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The Big 8 Food Allergen: Eggs Allergy to egg affects about 2% of children, but most will outgrow their allergy in or before their teenage years.4 Reactions to egg can be mild to life-threatening, so it should be strictly avoided by those with egg allergy.

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The Big 8 Food Allergen: Peanuts Peanut allergy affects between 1-2% of children and 0.6% of the overall U.S. population.2 Peanut allergic individuals may experience mild to life-threatening reactions, which can be unpredictable.

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Tree nuts

The Big 8 Food Allergen: Tree nuts Allergy to tree nuts affects 0.4-0.5% of the U.S. population.2 As many as 40% of peanut allergic individuals are also allergic to tree nuts.5 Tree nut allergy appears to be on the rise.5  

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The Big 8 Food Allergen: Fish It is estimated that 0.2% of children and 0.5% of adults are allergic to fish, with the allergy usually becoming known in adulthood.2,6

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Crustacean Shellfish

The Big 8 Food Allergen: Crustacean Shellfish Shellfish allergy may affect as many as 2.6% of women and 1.5% of men.2 Crustacean shellfish includes shrimp, lobster and crab and are the foods within the shellfish category that cause the most...

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The Big 8 Food Allergen: Wheat Wheat allergy prevalence is poorly defined, but may affect 0.5% of the population.2 However, it can be severe and even life-threatening.

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The Big 8 Food Allergen: Soy Soy allergy affects as many as 0.7% of the population.2 It most often manifests in infancy and is usually outgrown by 10 years of age.9  

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Did you know? Sesame is the ninth most common food allergy among children and adults in the U.S.

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