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What You Need to Know About The Big 8 Food Allergens

What You Need to Know About The Big 8 Food Allergens

The Big 8

According to a study done by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 90% of food allergies occur in eight common foods in the United States. The ‘Big 8,’ which consist of milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish, also account for some of the most serious allergic reactions nationally.

While you may not personally have a reaction to Big 8 foods, chances are a family member or friend does. Allergen-free snacks can be great to keep on hand, and are tasty whether or not you may have any allergies! Here’s what you need to know about the Big 8 food allergens:


Cow’s milk is the most common allergy for children, though the vast majority will outgrow it as they get older. A milk allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance. Symptoms of a milk allergy can be more serious, and include hives, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, vomiting and swelling of the lips, tongue or throat.


Like a milk allergy, a large percentage of children will outgrow an egg allergy by their teenage years. Egg whites are most likely responsible for an allergic reaction, but it is recommended that those with an egg allergy stay away from eggs entirely. It can be difficult to totally separate egg whites from the yolk.


Wheat allergens are estimated to affect 0.5% of the U.S. population, but reactions can range from minor to life threatening. About 20% of those with a wheat allergy are also allergic to other gluten-containing grains like barley, oats and rye. A wheat allergy is not the same as celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that does not produce life-threatening reactions.


Soy allergies are commonly seen in infancy, and are outgrown by age 10. Those with a vegan diet or who enjoy plant-based proteins should be wary, as tofu and tempeh both contain soy. Many Asian-inspired dishes are also soy based, such as edamame and miso.


Unlike the other big 8 food allergies listed above, a fish allergy more commonly develops in adulthood. Allergic reactions to fish can be pretty severe and are not the same as shellfish allergies. Halibut, salmon and tuna can all contribute to a fish allergy reaction.


Peanut allergies are common in 0.6% of the U.S. population. It is important to note that peanuts are not actually a tree nut, but a legume similar to soy.

When buying nut-free snacks, be sure to look for a peanut-free label as well. Not all nut-free products are peanut-free. Or search for completely allergen free snacks such as Plant Snacks!

Tree Nuts

40% of those allergic to peanuts also develop a tree-nut allergy. Those with a tree nut allergy may be allergic to a single type of nut, a multitude of different tree nuts, or all types of tree nuts. Coconuts are included as tree-nuts by the FDA, but coconut allergies are uncommon.


An estimated 1.2% of the population is allergic to shellfish. This allergy can be characterized into two groups: mollusks and crustaceans. Crustaceans include lobster, crab and shrimp, while mollusks are mussels, scallops and clams. An individual can be allergic to one or both types of shellfish.

Plant Snacks

Those who suffer from reactions to the Big 8 allergens now have access to tons of great allergen free snacks and foods! At Plant Snacks, our treats are vegan and grain-free. We create delicious snacks that are free of Big 8 allergens.

Our allergen free snacks come in various options, and are free of GMOs and added-sugar. Look for a store that sells Plant Snacks near you!


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