In the United States, nine foods account for 90% of food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish crustacean shellfish, and sesame. Federal regulations require that food products containing any of these nine ingredients (or their allergenic proteins) must declare on the package or label which allergens are present using common names. Under the FASTER Act of 2021, sesame is recognized as the 9th major food allergen effective January 1, 2023. A sesame allergen fact sheet and poster is available from FDA on their website here.

Undeclared allergens are the most common cause of food recalls in the United States, often due to packaging and labeling errors. Individuals can be allergic to many other foods, but the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) |  identifies the following foods as the "Big Nine" allergens:

1. Milk and milk products

  • Butter - butter fat, butter oil, buttermilk, butter acid
  • Casein - caseinates, casein hydrolysate, rennet casein
  • Cheese - cottage cheese, cream cheese, cheese curds, ricotta cheese
  • Cream - half & half, sour cream, whipping cream
  • Custard
  • Ghee
  • Lactalbumin - lactalbumin phosphate
  • Lactose - lactulose, lactoglobulin, lactoferrin
  • Pudding
  • Tagatose
  • Whey - whey protein hydrolysate
  • Yogurt

Milk is also sometimes found in the following: natural and artificial flavorings, luncheon meat, hot dogs, sausages, high protein flour, margarine, artificial butter flavor, nougat.

2. Eggs

  • Albumin - albumen, ovalbumin
  • Eggnog
  • Eggs of any species
  • Globulin - ovoglobulin
  • Livetin
  • Vitellin - ovovitellin
  • Lysozyme
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meringue
  • Ovomucoid
  • Ovomucin
  • Ovotransferrin
  • Surimi

Eggs are also sometimes found in the following: lecithin, marzipan, marshmallows, pasta, artificial egg flavors. A shiny glaze or yellow coloring in baked goods may indicate the presence of eggs.

3. Peanuts

  • Artificial nuts
  • Beer nuts
  • Goobers
  • Mandelonas
  • Mixed nuts - ground nuts, nut pieces,
  • Monkey nuts
  • Nut meat
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanut flour
  • Peanut oil - cold pressed, expelled, or extruded
  • Peanut protein - hydrolyzed peanut protein

Peanuts are also sometimes found in the following: African/Asian/Mexican dishes, baked goods, candy, chili, chocolate, egg rolls, marzipan, natural and artificial flavorings, nougat, sunflower seeds. Artificial nuts can be peanuts that have been deflavored and reflavored with a nut, like pecan, walnut, or almond.

4. Soy

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Shoyu sauce
  • Soy - soya, soy albumin, soybean (granules, curd), soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured vegetable protein
  • Tofu

Soy is also sometimes found in the following: natural and artificial flavoring, vegetable broth, vegetable gum, vegetable starch, lecithin, or soy lecithin.

5. Tree Nuts

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Caponata
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Filberts
  • Gianduja
  • Hazelnuts
  • Hickory nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Marzipan
  • Nougat
  • Nut butters
  • Nut meal
  • Nut oil
  • Nut paste
  • Nut pieces
  • Pecans
  • Pesto
  • Pine nuts
  • Pinyon nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

Tree nuts are also sometimes found in the following: mortadella, barbeque sauce, cereals, crackers, and ice cream.

6. Wheat

  • Bran
  • Bread crumbs
  • Bulgur
  • Cereal extract
  • Couscous
  • Cracker meal
  • Curum
  • Farina
  • Flour - all-purpose, enriched, graham, pastry, soft wheat, whole wheat
  • Gluten - vital gluten
  • Kamut
  • Seitan
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Wheat - bran, germ, gluten, malt, starch
  • Whole wheat berries

Wheat is also sometimes found in the following: natural and artificial flavoring, hydrolyzed protein, soy sauce, starch (gelatinized, modified, modified food starch), surimi, vegetable gum.

7. Fish

  • Caesar salad dressing
  • Caviar
  • Fish flavor/seafood flavor
  • Fish flour
  • Fish fume
  • Fish oil
  • Fish stock/seafood stock
  • Fishmeal
  • Fish sauce - nuoc mam
  • Freshwater or saltwater finfish
  • Octopus
  • Roe
  • Shark
  • Squid
  • Surimi
  • Worcestershire sauce

Fish and shellfish are also sometimes found in the following: natural and artificial flavoring, items fried in oil that is also used for seafood, bouillabaisse, glucosamine.

8. Crustacean Shellfish

  • Barnacle
  • Crab
  • Crawfish/crayfish/crawdad
  • Lobster - langouste, langoustine, scampi, bay bugs, tomalley
  • Prawns
  • Shrimp

*Doctors sometimes advise people with a crustacean shellfish allergy to also avoid molluscan shellfish or mollusks. Mollusks include but not limited to: abalone, clams, mussels, oysters, snails/escargot and scallops. Mollusks are not considered major allergens and may not be fully disclosed on product labeling

Fish and shellfish are also sometimes found in the following: natural and artificial flavoring, items fried in oil that is also used for seafood, bouillabaisse, glucosamine, surimi.

9. Sesame

  • Benne, benne seed, benniseed
  • Gingelly, gingelly oil
  • Gomasio (sesame salt)
  • Halvah
  • Sesame flour
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame paste
  • Sesame salt
  • Sesame seed
  • Sesamol
  • Sesamum indicum
  • Sesemolina
  • Sim sim
  • Tahini, tahina, or tehina
  • Til

Sesame is also sometimes found in the following: Asian cuisine, baked goods, bread crumbs, cereals like granola and muesli, chips, crackers, dipping sauces, dressings and sauces, falafel, hummus, processed meats, protein or energy bars, snack foods, sushi, tempeh, and vegetarian burgers.

More information is available at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) Common Allergens.