Allergy to food additives

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019 Jun;19(3):256-262. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0000000000000528.


Purpose of review: To provide an update of the studies concerning the diagnosis and management of food additives allergy.

Recent findings: Additives improve specific characteristics of food products, but they may induce allergic even life-threatening reactions. Physical examination and medical history are basic to assess specific in-vivo and in-vitro tests. The only treatment for allergic patients consists in avoiding the food containing culprit additives. High-risk patients should be able to recognize severe reactions and self-manage them.

Summary: The prevalence of adverse reactions to food additives is low, and it may depend on comorbidities, like asthma or chronic idiopathic urticaria. Food labels may help the correct identification of ingredients. Natural additives like spices should cause immediate reactions because of a pollen-sensitization or panallargen proteins presence. Additive-free diets may help the patient care, but the authors suggest assessing an oral food challenge with the culprit substance if there are no contraindications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / chemistry
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Antioxidants
  • Aspartame
  • Excipients
  • Food Additives / adverse effects*
  • Food Additives / metabolism
  • Food Preservatives
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Sodium Glutamate / immunology
  • Spices


  • Allergens
  • Antioxidants
  • Excipients
  • Food Additives
  • Food Preservatives
  • Sodium Glutamate
  • Aspartame