Meatless Monday: Food Allergies?

(A break from my usual Monday post, but I don’t have any new recipes today, and this is on my mind.)

Twice at daycare, Michael has broken out in little “red splotches” around his mouth. Both times he was eating (store-bought) hummus — which he loves, by the way. Michael likes nearly everything I have given him to this point. A major exception was lentil soup. He rejected that outright.

Anyhoo: so, red splotches. After the first time it happened, M had his 15-month well child visit. I mentioned it to his pediatrician. He said to keep an eye on M for other reactions.

And then it happened again, last Friday.

Here are the ingredients in the hummus: Cooked chickpeas, tahini (ground sesame), soybean and/or canola oil, garlic, salt, citric acid, seasoning and spices, natural flavors, potassium sorbate added to maintain freshness.

I suspect either the tahini or the citric acid.

Aside from talking to our pediatrician again (which I will do), I’m not sure what’s next. I have been very lucky that my children don’t have food allergies (knock on wood). They haven’t reacted (before this Hummus Incident) to anything. M’s even had tastes of peanut butter, nutella, and other stuff with nuts. No reaction.

On the other hand, I don’t know how much he’s really been exposed to citric juices or citric acid (in food). Is there such a thing as a citrus allergy or reaction? Or if it is a reaction to the sesame, is that something that could escalate into a nut allergy?


When I was pregnant with Michael, I had an aversion to nuts. It started out with an aversion to peanuts and peanut butter, but later in my pregnancy I didn’t even like cashews, almonds, and so on. It was a bummer because nuts had been (and now are again) a major part of my diet, one of my go-to snacks (pistachios! You can’t eat just one!), and also a family favorite.

Anyone have experience out there with allergies or food intolerances? Do they start out small and get worse? Or (as I’ve seen it with eggs) are there allergies kids can outgrow? Help?

18 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Food Allergies?

    • Huh. You hear so much (or I hear so much) about peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, milk, and soy, I never even considered citrus. Hm. Will really have to sit down with the pediatrician!

  1. FWIW, my tree-nut allergy has gotten *worse* as I’ve aged, to the point where I now carry an EpiPen.

  2. There *is* such a thing as a citrus allergy. The way I would test this would be to make homemade hummus – with tahini – and if he doesn’t react, it’s the citric acid or potassium sorbate.

    but even homemade hummus should have lemon in it so he’s probably going to get citrus regardless. You could make it without to test it.

    Or he could just have a weird allergy to chickpeas. You never know. Lots of kids are allergic to peanuts and those are technically a legume as well.

    • No, I know he’s not allergic to chick peas or beans. He scarfs down vegetarian chili (with chick peas) and vegetarian baked beans. I have a jar of tahini at home. maybe I’ll just put a dab of it on his hand or arm to see if it gets red? Or is that a bad idea?

  3. I’ve seen citric acid listed in a lot of per-packaged foods.

    I have a food intolerance to eggs. I would get sick after breakfast every morning (stomach aches, throwing up) so they started by taking everything away and slowly adding things back until we figured out the culprit.

    • the hummus is the only thing he’s reacted to. I’ll have to look at some of the other processed foods we eat (which aren’t many). I do a lot of cooking from scratch, so that’s a plus.

  4. Biologically, it’s possible to be allergic to ANYTHING. So there’s no reason to think it’s not, just because you haven’t heard of it.

    And also, allergies are different for every kid/person. My goddaughter is severely allergic to nuts. They found this out when she was only a few weeks old because her mom was eating peanut butter crackers in her presence, and she broke out in hives. It was severe from the get-go, and is severe now, and will be severe for the rest of her life. She ended up at the hospital the night of my wedding because of eating a peanut-tainted cookie. I still have Catholic guilt over that.

    On the other hand, my nephew baby Christian seemed to have allergies as a wee one that have diminished now. He was allergic to all formulas but one (the expensive one, of course!), plus a bunch of foods, and dog saliva. He’s over one now, so the formula allergy isn’t a problem, and he doesn’t seem to have any food or dog saliva reactions anymore.

    So who knows. Likely worth keeping an eye on.

  5. Sesame is actually a more common allergy than many people realize – I’m allergic myself. In my experience it’s gotten worse with time and grown to include other seeds (pumpkin, sunflower,..) but not nuts

    An allergist could do simple testing which may save you from a potentially dangerous situation if you try to taste test the food at home.

    • Oh, no, I wouldn’t taste test it, like I said. Ultimately, I’ll probably take him to an allergist. I just wondered if anyone else had seed allergies or citrus allergies. Maybe I could email you? (I can get your email from my comments page; no need to post it here.) Thanks!

  6. I have a friend who has developed a citrus allergy in the last few years. She refers to it as a ‘contact allergy’ because it is not about ingesting the citrus; rather, if it contacts her lips they swell and become crusty and chapped. It lasts for 12 hours or so and she treats it with Benadryl and applies a cold pack. So she now drinks margaritas through a straw!

  7. One of my nephews is allergic to sesame seeds and only sesame seeds. I don’t think that seed and nuts are necessarily related other than they both are oily.

  8. Most jarred babyfoods have citric acid in them for whatever reason. Esp. the fruits. (I believe it’s to keep them from turning yucky colors?) So if he ate jarred baby food with no problem, I’d say it’sprobably not the citric acid. Food allergies and intolerances are a PITA. I have 17 month old twins who have dairy intolerance and it’s rough, but once you figure out what the issue is you adapt pretty quickly. Good luck!

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