What are the food additives that trigger an allergic reaction?

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Preservatives and flavor enhancers as well as food dyes are considered as food additives that can initiate an allergic reaction in some individuals. The symptoms of an allergic reaction to food additives include diarrhea, hives and asthma. It is important to that there are several food additives that are known to trigger allergic reactions. Some of these additives are commonly used while some are considered rare. If you want to learn how to handle an allergic reaction, click here.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

One of the commonly used food additive that helps enhance flavor in various dishes is monosodium glutamate or MSG. This is commonly utilized in different Asian dishes that can easily trigger an allergic reaction with symptoms such as asthma, tightness of the chest, migraines, sweating, diarrhea and a burning sensation at the upper chest and nape of the neck.


Allergy to food additives
The symptoms of an allergic reaction to food additives include diarrhea, hives and asthma.

Sulfites are widely used in the production of processed foods and beverages such as dried fruits, wine, frozen potatoes, white grape juice, fresh shrimp, maraschino cherries as well as certain jellies and jams. Back in 1986, sulfites was banned by the FDA on fresh fruits and vegetables since it was used to retain their freshness and color.

The allergic reactions to sulfites typically include skin rashes, itchiness and abdominal discomfort. There are even some medications for asthma that contain sulfites. It is important to note that a small percentage of individuals with asthma can suffer from anaphylactic symptoms such as hives, tightness of the chest, diarrhea, stomach cramps and breathing problems.

Yellow dyes

There are several foods that are tinted with the yellow dye No. 5 and yellow No. 6. These yellow dyes are comprised of carcinogenic benzidine and other chemicals that the body converts to benzidine. Take note that yellow dye No. 5 is usually present in margarine, butter, medications, sodas, candy and chocolate. This dye can trigger allergy-like reactions especially among those who are sensitive to aspirin and even hyperactivity in some children. As for yellow dye No.6, it has been recorded to cause kidney and adrenal tumors and even a severe hypersensitivity reaction in some individuals.

Potassium bromate

Potassium bromate is utilized in the preparation of various baked products. This food additive can cause cancer in animals. After the baking process, a minimal amount of carcinogenic potassium bromate stays in the bread. Take note that bromate has already been banned in many countries except in United States and Japan.


BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole and BHT (butylated hydroxyl toluene are usually added in various breads, breakfast cereals and other grain products in order to preserve the color and flavor by preventing the breakdown of the grains induced by oxygen. The allergic reactions to BHA and BHT among sensitive individuals include redness, swelling of the skin, hives and severe itchiness.

Other food additives

There are also other food additives that can trigger allergic reactions such as nitrates, aspartame and benzoates. An allergic response to these food additives are considered rare. In some cases that involve aspartame, certain reactions such as hives and swollen eyelids might occur. As for nitrates, they are used to preserve and improve the flavor and color as well as preventing botulism. These additives can trigger hives and headaches. Benzoates are preservatives that are added to candy, cakes, cereal, margarine and salad dressing. The reactions to this food additive are considered rare.

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