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Allergy and Asthma: Fast Food

Updated on January 23, 2018
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Food allergies can really take the fast out of fast food. However, this does not always mean fast foods are completely out. Take some time to study the menu and food items offered. It may be that a few menu item are safe, thus offering you an option to eat out with friends or when 'on-the-run'. Calling or writing to the home office of your favorite fast food restaurant is often the best way to get many of your questions answered.

Always ask for the ingredient list for any in menu item you are considering. Be weary of ingredients that say 'natural flavors', 'seasonings', and 'spices'. Always ask how the items are prepared, but be aware that food service workers may not truly know the answer to this question. Don't hesitate to ask the manager for further clarification. If there is a potential for cross contamination in food preparation areas, it is best to avoid the restaurant than to take that chance.

Always be prepared for an allergic reaction. Carry your emergency epinephrine kit and be sure to wear an identification bracelet or necklace to alert others. Using the list below as well as ingredient wise eating, you can learn to make safer food choices when eating away from home and 'on-the-run'.

Commonly Hidden Allergens In Fast Foods

Breads and more:

  • Bakers may use egg glazes on their breads and pastries to make them brown when baking
  • Rye bread is almost always a mixture of rye flour and wheat rye
  • Ground nuts may be present in some baked products
  • Breads may contain barley flour, which is not allowed on a gluten restricted diet
  • Many breads contain modified food starch (avoid in corn, soy, and gluten allergies), corn syrup and soy protein, so be careful if you have a corn, soy or peanut allergy

Breakfast Foods:

  • Beware of coatings on fried foods they may contain eggs, flour and milk solids.
  • Many breakfast foods contain eggs and flour

Burritos and Tacos:

  • Beware of hamburger meat containing eggs, corn, and milk.
  • Hot sauce may be served on tacos and burritos, beware of vegetable gums to be avoided with corn, peanut, and soy allergies
  • Corn tortillas may contain vegetable gums to be avoided with corn, peanut, and soy allergies

Chicken Dishes:

  • Avoid breading if you have gluten or wheat allergies
  • Beware of chicken cooked with hydrolyzed vegetable protein oil and should be avoided with soy and peanut allergies

Condiments, Sauces:

  • Avoid mayonnaise if you have a egg, soy or peanut allergy
  • Ketchup may contain corn syrup
  • Teriyaki sauce contains soy
  • Hot sauce may contain vegetable gums to be avoided with corn, peanut, and soy allergies
  • Beware of sauces as they may be thickened with flour, corn starch and milk solids

Desserts:

  • Peanuts and tree nuts (walnuts and pecans) often appear cooked into cookies, dessert breads, pie crusts, cheese cake crusts, and cakes
  • Caramel flavorings, syrup, and candy often contain milk or lactose derivatives
  • Many chocolate bars and candy may be cross contaminated with nuts
  • Ice cream often contains eggs, milk, soy and corn

Drinks:

  • Regular sodas often contain high fructose corn syrup

Fish and Seafood:

  • Avoid breading if you have gluten or wheat allergies
  • Fish may be cooked in hydrolyzed vegetable protein oil (be avoided with soy and peanut allergies) or butter

Hamburgers:

  • Ask if hamburgers contain any other ingredients, for example eggs, corn meal, milk solids

Pizza, Pasta, and more:

  • Pizza crust may contain vegetable gums (to be avoided with corn, peanut, and soy allergies) and soybean oil
  • Pasta sauce may contain corn syrup and soybean oil
  • Meat toppings may contain corn, wheat, soy protein or vegetable protein fillers that contain soy
  • Pineapple topping may contain high fructose corn syrup

Potatoes:

  • Check which oil is used for frying as this can often contain peanut or soybean oils
  • Beware of coatings they may contain eggs, flour and milk solids

Salads and Dressings:

  • Peanut or soybean oil may be used in salad dressings
  • Eggs, soy, milk solids, corn syrup and vegetable gums (to be avoided with corn, peanut, and soy allergies) may be used in salad dressings
  • Salads may contain nuts and soy products

Sandwiches:

  • Vendors may use egg glazes on their deli meats to make them shiny
  • Many meats contain modified food starch, vegetable gums (to be avoided with corn, peanut, and soy allergies) and corn syrup

Side Dishes:

  • Chili frequently contains peanuts
  • Egg rolls may contain peanuts

Soups:

  • Vegetable broth may contain soybeans
  • Many soups may contain milk, soy protein, corn, and wheat

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