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What is Hypoallergenic Food?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hypoallergenic food is food which is unlikely to cause allergic reactions. It is used in elimination diets which are utilized to pin down the causes of food allergies, and it is sometimes recommended to parents of young children, especially children in a family with a history of food allergies. Many foods are naturally hypoallergenic and easy to integrate into a hypoallergenic diet, and it is also possible to find manufactured food products produced by companies which specialize in hypoallergenic food. These foods tend to be expensive, and they are available through large grocery stores and health food stores.

Some people find the term “hypoallergenic” confusing, because they think it means that something hypoallergenic will not produce an allergic reaction. In fact, “hypo” just means “less,” so hypoallergenic foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions. This means that someone could still have allergies to hypoallergenic foods, especially if that individual had a very obscure allergy or an extremely high level of sensitivity.

Packaged foods which are designed to be hypoallergenic are made without the use of common allergens like wheat, nuts, soy, seafood, and dairy products. Ideally, hypoallergenic food is made in a facility which does not handle any of these items, to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. Some foods may eliminate any grains which contain gluten, along with corn, mangoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and other foods which are commonly linked with allergic reactions.

Naturally hypoallergenic foods include rice, apples, pears, beans, lamb, and most vegetables. In the case of someone with a suspected food allergy, a doctor will usually provide a list of safe foods which are consumed by the patient for several weeks before he or she slowly adds allergens back into the diet. When an allergic reaction is experienced, it can be traced back to a particular food, thereby pinpointing the allergen.

Some parents use hypoallergenic foods for very young children, out of concern that early exposures to potential allergens could trigger the development of an immune system response, thereby making the child allergic. Peanut butter, for example, may not be offered to toddlers for this reason. Parents should definitely consult an allergy specialist about an appropriate diet for their children, since additional information about allergies is always being uncovered.

Humans are not the only ones who sometimes need hypoallergenic food. Pets and animals sometimes develop reactions to food allergens, and several companies manufacture food which is suitable for animals on a hypoallergenic diet.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Pimiento — On Sep 30, 2010

Allergies are a very interesting subject to me and even though there are some companies that pride themselves on being a hypoallergenic company, many other businesses don't much care. Health food companies are the most interested, I noticed... of course, to me, that makes a lot of sense. I think the article does a good job of pointing out that allergens can come even from indirect exposure. Such as a peanut allergy and eating something that's been cooked in peanut oil triggering it.

By ChickenLover — On Sep 30, 2010

@lmorales - I am not too clear on what you mean exactly, but it implies that a fun time will NOT be had by all. I think if you consult your pet's veterinarian you can find ways to test for allergies much like humans do. There is the prick test which I can tell you from experience is absolutely horrible and would not want even my worst enemy to go through.

By lmorales — On Sep 30, 2010

This type of food comes in all shapes and sizes - you can literally find hypoallergenic pet food now and no one seems to bat a lash at all. Truthfully, though, in order to find out if your pet is allergic to something you might find yourself on the unpleasant end of your best bud.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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