Australians love to eat, and there’s nothing better than heading out with a group of friends on the weekend for a leisurely meal and some great conversation. That being said, if you’re allergic to something and don’t realize it, your fun evening out could quickly become tragic.
Unfortunately, many of the foods you’re likely to eat in large gatherings with friends could be foods that you’re allergic to. Here’s a quick run-down of nine common food allergies in Australia — and how you can prepare for a situation where you ingest a food you’re allergic to.
1. Sesame Seeds
This lifelong allergy can be particularly dangerous since it doesn’t take more than a few seeds to cause problems for anyone allergic to them. To make matters worse, sesame seeds go by several different names, including “gingelly seeds” and “sim sim.” Sometimes sesame seeds are even ground up and used in baked goods.
Having an allergy to any finned fish can be a real drag in a country like Australia known for its seafood. That being said, these sorts of allergies are important to avoid, with halibut, tuna, and salmon being the three most common types of finned fish Aussies are generally allergic to. That being said, it’s important to know that fish aren’t always just an entree. Fish are frequently used in stocks and sauces, so make sure to read labels carefully.
Soy is generally an allergy younger Australians face, but it can still be problematic nonetheless. Like sesame seeds, soy products are known by a variety of names that you’ll need to be on the lookout for. “Bean curd,” “tofu,” “tempeh,” and “tamari” are all soy-based products.
A milk allergy isn’t just common in Australia; it’s actually the most common allergy in the world—particularly in infants, intolerance, or allergy to milk is quite common. This can be one of the most difficult foods to avoid just because of its ubiquity in other products, but thankfully some businesses are starting to focus on serving customers with milk allergies healthy alternatives by using soy, almond, or even oat milk.
Different than an allergy to finned fish, a shellfish allergy generally refers to anyone who has an allergic reaction after eating oysters, lobster, shrimp, or crab. Australians allergic to shellfish are usually very sensitive, so even a small amount of cross-contamination can sometimes cause an allergic reaction.
Some people, especially children, have an egg allergy. This may refer to an allergic reaction caused by egg whites or egg yolks. As such, it’s best to avoid eggs altogether if you’re allergic to them, which can sometimes be difficult, especially in baked goods.
Another common food allergen for Australians is wheat, but it’s important to note that a wheat allergy differs from celiac disease. A true allergic reaction to wheat is just as life-threatening in terms of your risk of asphyxiation, whereas celiac disease generally applies to any gluten proteins.
8. Tree Nuts
From almonds and Brazil nuts to pecans, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews, tree nuts comprise pretty much any nut besides peanuts. Nut allergies are incredibly common, meaning that it’s easier to find out if a product contains nuts by looking at its label. These allergies should be taken seriously as they’re generally quite severe.
Peanuts are a legume and one of the more common allergens across the world. Like many other allergens on this list, even a trace amount of peanuts or peanut oil can cause severe reactions, whether ingested or just brushed on your skin. Many food manufacturers are quite clear about when peanut-based items are used in their products, so they’re slightly easier to avoid than other foods on this list.
If all of this talk about food allergies has you concerned about having an allergic reaction in public, it’s a good idea to look into what ambulance cover you might want to use should you get in a jam. Of course, having an EpiPen or other medication can help stave off an allergic reaction, but for very severe cases, you’ll want to be taken to the hospital for further treatment.
Not every ambulance service costs the same, though, so it’s a good idea to compare ambulance cover with iSelect ahead of time so that you know what kind of ambulance transport you want in the heat of the moment. Having this information before you’re in crisis mode can help you make the safe decision that protects your life while also protecting your pocketbook.