Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Citrus Allergy Question


Today's post is to answer a reader who recently sent emailed me with the following question: "My son just recently got diagnosed with a citrus intolerance. He doesn't have an allergic reaction to it... so it's not a typical "allergy" but I need to treat it like one. So anyway, absolutely every thing has citric acid in it it seems. I heard that most citric acid in processed foods actually come from corn. Do you know if there's any truth to that?"

Hm. I had no idea the answer to this one, but i did some research and came up with the following.

According to Wikipedia, commercial citric acid is produced by: "cultures of Aspergillus niger are fed on a sucrose or glucose-containing medium to produce citric acid. The source of sugar is corn steep liquor,[9] molasses, hydrolyzed corn starch or other inexpensive sugary solutions.[10] After the mold is filtered out of the resulting solution, citric acid is isolated by precipitating it with lime (calcium hydroxide) to yield calcium citrate salt, from which citric acid is regenerated by treatment with sulfuric acid."

I also found that in some cases citric acid is made with pineapple juice or lemon juice but these are far more expensive so the mold/corn/sugar combination mentioned in Wikipedia is far more likely.

So the answer is YES, a majority of commercial citric acid is produced with corn. The Aspergillus niger is also a mold, so people who are allergic to mold may also react to commercial citric acid. So those with corn allergies should also avoid citric acid as well. What a world.

Citric acid is used as both a preservative as well as a flavoring, so obviously anything with a tart taste will contain it. In addition to fruit juices, it's also included in places you wouldn't think like soda and ice cream. The sites I sourced (listed below) also noted to be careful of toiletries including citric acid (the rule of thumb was any ingredient that began with "citr-" contained it), but they found that Dove soap did not.

The answer is to try to cook at home as much as possible. I try to make a lot of some staples and keep them in the freezer for the times when I just don't have the time to cook from scratch. Soup stocks, brownies, waffles are ready in a hurry. A good substitute for cooking with lemon juice is to substitute vinegar when the recipe calls for a small amount (I like champagne and sherry vinegars).

Additionally, I had no idea that while rare, citrus allergy reactions could be so severe. Mine is fairly sensitive (just being around the sliced lemon I photographed made my sinuses hurt) but not brutal. And btw, does anyone else get the "you are obviously insane" look from restaurant servers when you ask them to NOT serve your water with a lemon slice? :) If they bring it by accident I usually have to send it back because just one or two swallows of water with a lemon squeeze makes me react.

Here are the URLs for the sources I used to answer this question.

http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~vclarke/citric.html#manuf

http://blog.nutritiondata.com/ndblog/2007/03/ask_nd_citrus_a.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid

I tried to shoot some lemons to make them look appropriately evil for this topic.

60 comments:

Jeff Sutherland said...

I also have a citrus intolerance related to oral allergy syndrome. I haven't found a good substitute for lemon juice (I hate vinegar), but I have found that I don't react to citric acid. Apparently, the acid produced by the bacteria doesn't have the same proteins as the acid in the fruit.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Jeff, interesting that you only react to the "real" citric acid. And lucky. I was going to suggest that since you don't like vinegar you might try verjus (also spelled verjuice) which is a sour grape juice used in French and Middle Eastern cooking -- it tastes the most like lemon juice, but since it is naturally sour it likely contains a lot of citric acid.

Lola said...

I just found out that I'm allergic to several foods, as well as molds (aspergillus being one of them) and I never would have guessed that citric acid contains mold!! Thanks for the information!

Gail said...

Hi everyone,
I love reading your comments about Citric Acid. I'm allergic to citrus fruits as well. What I'm wondering is if it's okay to have calcium salt of citric acid, commercially known as Calcium Citrate?

This is a great site!

Food Allergy Queen said...

Gail, sorry this took so long to answer. I looked this question up, and this is a by-product of making citric acid. Also, since it has a sour taste, I'm guessing that it still has some part of citrus in it, so would avoid it if you have a citrus allergy. One of the golden rules is, "when in doubt, leave it out!"

The FAQ

Brandi said...

I had to comment on this because I have had an allergy to citrus fruits since I was two. I would break out in huge water filled itchy blisters around my mouth. Then later I began to get bigger blisters and itched from my shoulders to the top of my head with the smallest amount of citrus. Last year cherries started to do the same. Cherries are high in vitamin C. Only recently has the subject gained information so the only answer from doctors was to avoid it. But I craved citrus fruits so bad (and I live in Florida). One doctor put it this way "If you break out outside then something is happening inside too." I came across some information that a citrus allergy can be caused by a vitamin B-5 deficiency. I started taking this and the break outs are gone. I actually drank a gallon of OJ in two days! I'm supposed to go in for more testing because a vitamin B-5 deficiency is rare. They want to see why I am not processing it normally. I just wish I had known about this a long time ago.

Jen Hoff said...

Thanks for covering citrus allergies. I figured out that my daughter (now 9) was allergic to citrus when she was a baby. Now we are facing the problem of being in school with kids eating clementines and oranges all over the place. When she can smell citrus she gets a fever and some eczema. We are pretty clean but if she accidentally eats food or drink with citrus she spikes a higher fever (up to 104.5) that lasts for up to 5 days. I read on another site that it is likely a citrus protein allergy/sensitivity. Is there at test that can confirm that? Sure would be helpful if we knew she could have citric acid as an ingredient. Thanks

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Jen, thanks for your comment. An allergist should be able to test for a citrus allergy. Mine actually tested strongly for lemon, and a minor reaction to oranges,but I since discovered that anything with citric acid (including beverages like Gatorade) gave me a reaction. As I noted above, in cooking you can use vinegar and for drinks you can use cranberry juices.

I'm sure the biggest problem is just being around it at school. People are finally becoming aware of nut/peanut allergies, but orange juice will be an uphill battle. Perhaps her school can designate a "juice free zone" where she can sit safely and only her friends who don't have juice can join her?

Let us know how it goes. I also started a discussion board on Facebook if you'd like to continue this topic there!

Jen Hoff said...

Juice isn't so much the problem as kids peeling oranges and clementines at school. The allergist we saw just didn't have lemon and orange. They offered to challenge her with an orange and we practically ran out of there. I'm going to try supplementing her B5, Serine and Calcium to see if that reduces her reaction. So far at school the solution has been to ask the friends she eats with not to bring citrus but as you can imagine the wonderful smell fills the room. We are home now on our 5th day in bed because someone peeled an orange in a large room that she was in.

Thanks for being a resource.

Sarah said...

I found out that I am allergic to citrus fruit and all the citric acids(including naturally found in the foods such as tomatoes, berries, etc.) and most of "bad " E numbers and dairy as well.I had to cut off salt completely.. Symptoms were really bad such as swallowed face in the morning, IBS, extreme skin rashes all over the body,mood swings... but finally its over!
Now my struggle is my new diet!everything is tasteless as there is not much to choose from.. and there is so little information on the internet about this allergy or any alternatives to these foods..

Food Allergy Queen said...

Sarah, I'm so sorry that I missed replying to your comment earlier!

A few tips:

Of course you can't replace things to taste EXACTLY the same as these, but they help do the same function -- brighten the taste or add lightness to dishes.

To replace lemon juice in savory foods you can use verjus (pronounced ver-joo) which is sour grape juice. However, it's a hard to find, you usually have to go to a gourmet food store, and it's a bit expensive. My alternatives are to use light vinegars -- white balsamic, white wine or champagne vinegar in equal amounts to the lemon juice. You can also use pomegranate juice or cherry juice in some cases for orange juice in recipes. It won't be exactly the same, but close. And still tasty!

I've cooked for a friend who couldn't have salt -- my trick was to up the amount of other seasonings, including onions and garlic, and add a little splash of vinegar at the end to pick up the flavor a bit so it doesn't taste so flat.

If you're on Facebook, I started a Food Allergy Queen discussion board where you can share some of your questions and hopefully find answers as well.

Karen K said...

I developed a citrus allergy about a year ago (burning, itching mouth and face, progressing to welts in mouth and swelling, then breathing/swallowing issues if not treated quickly). I have a milder reaction to citric acid. I've wondered why I have an issue with commercial citric acid as a preservative since it is commonly manufactured from non-citrus origins as you describe. But it was very interesting to read that the process includes sulfuric acid. I have had an allergy to Sulfites for 6+ years. My reaction to sulfites becomes anaphylactic quickly so I have to carry an Epi-pen and have had to use quite a few times. So your research leads me to believe that my reaction to citric acid preservatives may actually be related to the sulfuring process.

I found out the hard way that most commercial fryer oils used in restaurants contain citric acid.

Anonymous said...

An allergy blood test returned with only Aspergillus niger as being a high allergen. Does this mean I need to avoid products that use citric acid made using Aspergillus niger. I already know I'm highly alleric to sulfites. Thank you.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Anonymous, my guess is that you should avoid any synthetic citric acid since you're so allergic to Aspergillus. I suppose natural citrus would probably be ok?

Anonymous said...

Hi I am 21 years old and about seven years ago i started to notice that every once in a while i would get soars on my tongue and it would feel soar and swollen. I noticed this happened when i ate something with a lot of citric acid such as lemons or limes. A while later my throat started hurting if i drank lemonaid and i would get a fever and be irritable. Recently i have noticed that when i eat candy with citric acid in it my tonge hurts which it never did before. Do I have a citric acid allergy? Will it continue to get worse as i age?

Food Allergy Queen said...

Anonymous, what's you're describing is "oral allergy syndrome" it's likely that you have at least an intolerance to citrus. But the only way to confirm an allergy is with an allergist's scratch or blood test.

Meanwhile, avoid citrus where you can, over time you'll feel better. Keep in mind that it's in candy, and other foods to add a tart taste.

Good luck!

Food Allergy Queen said...

Sorry, I forgot to answer one question. The body turns over all cells every 7 years. So you will probably know if you'll outgrow it by the time you're 28. Or sadly, it's also possible to get new allergies. Most likely it won't get worse than it is now.

Jan said...

I developed a citrus allergy two years ago. It started with just food but has now leaked over into other areas. I did hair for ten years and had to stop because of the citrus based chemicals in the color and products. I have a hard time with everything. I actually had a reaction on an airplane this morning because of a woman's perfume. Any else have any issues with that?

Anonymous said...

My son has Eosinophilic Esophagitis and I was just researching alternatives to lemon juice in cooking. I really appreciate this thread as he is allergic to citrus fruits among other things (the usual top 8 food allergens as well as beef, melon, all gluten grains, bananas and possibly more). They cause an eosinophilic reaction in his esophagus, not an outward reaction, but his reaction to citrus also caused pneumonia, interestingly enough. So, obviously I really need to stay away from this one.

I have just found some wonderful new cookbooks that have really helped me a lot, but have been trying to figure out how to deal with the lemon in so many of the recipes. Cybele Pascal uses lemon juice with rice milk in some of her recipes to mimic buttermilk, which is a great idea, but I need to find out what to use instead. I will try white wine and champagne vinegars after reading your thread, but I also have rice vinegar, which I thought might work. I am assuming different vinegars would be appropriate for different recipes, such as baked goods vs salsas, so if you have any specific suggestions for other common recipes, I'd really appreciate it. In what situations would you substitute rice vinegar? Thanks!

Oh, and I have successfully substituted mango juice for OJ in some baked goods, and assume pineapple would work well in that situation as well.

Debbie (EosMom)

Cindy said...

Glad I found this...I not only have the Citrus allergy/oral allergy syndrome, but I can't eat ANYTHING tart, or I break out with horrible canker sores. My poor 1 year old daughter shares this allergy, and she gets an instant diaper rash that lasts for about 5 days. I can't eat tomato, OJ, vinegar, lemon, grapefruit, pineapple, cantaloupe, and most berries unless I heat them first (changes the sugar content). *sigh* What a life! I tried the B-vitamin supplements, but I saw no difference. My Father and brother have the same allergy.

Shanti said...

Hi! Glad I found this... I've been struggling with OAS for years, as well as many reactions to food additives. What a surprise to find out that "calcium hydroxide" comes from lime! That always got me reacting. Cause now for the past 5 months I started to be very allergic to lemon and lime, scratch test negative but symptoms include wheezing and swelling of throat (have to carry epi all the time). Also react to citric acid, but since I'm also allergic to mold, there you go! Last but not least: I just read on another site that citrus allergy can be a cross-reaction with peach allergy. Since my worst allergy is birch pollen, and I do react to peaches, there's another thread for me! Gosh I miss my OJ so bad... used to drink it EVERY day for years, now I can't have a drop! And I can choke just smelling someone peeling an orange or chopping lemon...

Kornelia said...

I am so glad I found this. I just found out I am allergic to citrus fruits, citric acid, vinegar and berries. So verjus is out of the question. And I am living in India, cooking mostly Mediterranean food. Can anybody suggest a sour agent I might use in my cooking? How can I make a salad dressing without anything sour? I am also allergic to milk, so anything with cream is out of the question. Thank you for your help.

Anonymous said...

I have found all of these comments about citrus allergies to be very informative. I have many alllergies such as seafood, dairy, soy, and most recently citrus. It started with minor cold sores, rashes on my legs and a dull pain in my abdominal area. Once I realized what was causing it and avoided those foods, I was fine. However, every now and then, I end up eating something containing trace amounts of citrus (like the vegetable boullion I ate yesterday) and I end up with severe abdominal pain the next day. Have you heard of other people with this symptom?

LucyBerry said...

Your website feels like i wrote, I have been suffering with all those allergies and more for years. I just avoid eating fruit. Its just one big nightmare, because as much as I can manage it my friends and family dont understand why I dont want to eat there food and my symptoms are not obvious, they creep up on me literally! I am so happy to have found people who feel the same as I do!

jody said...

Questions: I have been suffering with rosacia and found that I get acid reflux badly from citrus. I also have extreme chest and arm pains when I take multi-vitamins. Do any of you have these types of symptoms from citrus intolerance? I am also allergic to sulfates and my dad told me that I used to get rashes from tomatoes when I was little. I just made the citrus connection a few days ago, so i'm trying to figure out if I'm correct. I guess it's time for some eliminations! Is there a good food avoidance list out there?

Anonymous said...

for everyone who hasn't been able to find a good substitute for citrus fruits, apparently powdered sumac is a good substitute. my step-father is severely allergic to citrus (it only takes a drop on his food and he all but needs an epipen...so far he hasn't had enough citrus to need one, but who knows. he can't even get it one his skin.) we haven't tried it yet, ut it's in the mail since we couldn't find it anywhere where we live. i researched it and it's what was used in middle eastern foods before the Romans introduced lemons. hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

I just finished a 45 day detox program which included 3 days of drinking a lemon juice,maple syrup,water mixture at two different times. By the time I was finished with the second batch my eyes were red,swollen and itchy. Now everytime I have anything with citrus my eyes swell and now my mouth has started. Yesterday I had an organic honey lemon candy and today my eyes are a mess. It had lemon oil in it. Before I started the detox program I wasn't allergic to oral citrus just topical. I sure hope I grow out of this. What a mess, you try to do something good for your body and it makes it worse.

Katherine said...

WOW! Thank you all! for years people would look at me like I was crazy, and I started to believe them.
After the birth of my 2nd child I started having all these allergy symptoms (red, swollen eye, blister sores in my mouth, trouble breathing, upset stomach, and rasher. It was my husband that finally figured out that it was from citrus, including tomatoes. Over the last 15 years I have learned to watch labels! And my allergy has progressed to Citic Acids.

I am a preschool teacher, and I have a very difficult time when a child brings in an orange, clementine, and juices. I used to just make sure I was wearing rubber gloves so I don't have any juice spray on me, but the older I get, the more sensitive I get. I can't ask families to not bring it in to the class as it is very healthy for them. I have just worked out with other teachers to take over my class so I can leave the room till they have eaten. I am sorry for the child that gets fevers in the school. good luck.

I am searching for answers to suppliment the lack of Vitamin C in my system. I find that I am getting sick easier and more often because of this. I will try the B5, but if anyone else has an idea I would be open to try.
Again, Thank You for this! I'm not alone.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Kornelia, since you're in India, sumac may work as suggested by another reader as a tart alternative. Also, duh, how about tamarind, which is very common there? It comes in paste and powder form.

Katherine, as for alternate source of vitamin c, how about guava, kiwifruit (which is actually a berry) or cherries?

Good luck, the FAQ

Anonymous said...

The note about B5 deficiency had been mentioned to me when I began having problems eating/drinking oranges/juice. However, my sensitivities to all things citrus seems to be getting worse. My reactions are not classically allergic in nature. Instead, I will have GI symptoms within 30-60 minutes -- profoundly distressing symptoms, which always seem to include flushing diarrhea like that involved with taking a prep like Go-Litely, as well as occasional violent vomiting, sweats & chills. Once all of the citrus appears to be out of my body, I'm fine other than being weak and not wanting to eat. It is often difficult to eliminate all citrus or identify it in foods prepared in delis or restaurants. The comments I heard at lunch today (from a "friend") when I asked for a replacement glass of iced tea without lemon: "Can't you just fish it out?" & "I just love the taste of lemon; I don't know how I'd do without it!"

Angie said...

I was reading through the comments to see if anyone else has the same reaction as my 22 month old daughter. I discovered her intolerance to citrus when she was about 15 months old. She will not only rash on her face and bottom,but she also starts projectile vomiting within a hour of eating even a pinch of citrus/citric acid.We also found out the hard way that tamiflu has citric acid in the flavoring.

She also has a peanut allergy, egg allergy, tomato intolerance. I have never known anyone with so many problems with food. I am wondering if she has a condition that is being over looked?

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Angie, thanks for writing. Yes, it sounds as if your daughter has a citrus allergy, but the best way to confirm is to test with an allergist in a controlled environment. That's how I found out about my 20+ food allergies, which include nuts, tomatoes, garlic and citrus. Yes, multiple food allergy people are out here!

You can find more information at The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) at foodallergy.org.

Also join the support group of Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) at kidswithfoodallergies.org.

And keep in touch with our community for tips, recipes, etc. Your best weapon is to educate yourself to keep your daughter safe. Good luck! The FAQ

Anonymous said...

Very helpful site. Thank you. I have discovered I'm sensitive to wheat/gluten, soy (esp. lecithin), and now citrus - particularly oranges. Finding good foods gets increasingly difficult. It's frustrating how you can tell a server at a restaurant about your food issues, ask numerous questions, and still be poisoned before you get home. I feel fortunate to be able to recognize the taste of the foods I react to when I accidently encounter them, but it's usually too late by then. For years, I wondered why I had so many issues with shampoos and lotions... now I know. I really hope it doesn't get worse. But I will be going out to look for some B5 supplements today...

Anonymous said...

I became alergic to lemon after the birth of my first child. It took me two years to figure out it was lemon. The reaction at first was blisters on my lips, sometimes severe. It progressed to swelling of the mouth, lip and nose. I now carry an Epi-pen. If I start to feel a tingleing in my mouth after I have eaten something I can take an antihystamine and that seems to help. I can eat other citrus, which I am thankful for. I'm so glad I found this site. I haven't heard of anyone else with this problem until now. I am going to try the B-5 and see if that helps. I totally relate with the person who gets the comments when you ask for things without lemon. My friends now tell the waitstaff at restaurants that I'm allergic, I never wanted to make a fuss about it. When they know it's an allergy the staff responds better.

Amanda said...

Hello. My daughter age 6 has a severe citrus allergy. She hasn't yet had a reaction to citric acid. Here reaction starts with simple hives then it progress to anaphylaxis within five minutes. Her throat closes and she turns blue. This reaction can happen by simple inhaling citrus particles. (i.e. the spray from an orange peel or misted lemon juice.) Her allergy very closely resembles a severe peanut allergy. School has been a nightmare. She just started 1st grade two days ago and the school has called about every two hours asking questions or with concerns they need to go over with me. Our pediatrician has suggested that her allergy will most likely worsen with age. Also, apricots should be added to the citrus allergy list. That was the 1st fruit we ever had a reaction to and it is her most aggressive reactor.

whitejl13 said...

I have a question and I'm sorry if this is somewhere or someone else has asked this but my 22 month old daughter has always been allergic to strawberries. I just found out now she's allergic to apples,grapes,and oranges. They are saying to go ahead and avoid citric acid too is this correct? There was something in frito lay products breaking her out and I thought it was canola oil and they said they can't test for it but citric acid is in them so this makes sense. One more thing has anyone seen an allergy like a citrus allergy come after a child is a toddler?

whitejl13 said...

I have a question and I'm sorry if this is somewhere or someone else has asked this but my 22 month old daughter has always been allergic to strawberries. I just found out now she's allergic to apples,grapes,and oranges. They are saying to go ahead and avoid citric acid too is this correct? There was something in frito lay products breaking her out and I thought it was canola oil and they said they can't test for it but citric acid is in them so this makes sense. One more thing has anyone seen an allergy like a citrus allergy come after a child is a toddler?

Anonymous said...

I have a citrus intolerance also. And yes any Dove product is amazing! I have to be extra careful with everything. I have to ask about marinades and dressings and all sorts of stuff when I eat out. I can't have energy drinks and the only soda I've found that doesn't have citric acid in it is Dr Pepper. With my job, i have to wear gloves and a mask when I clean with certain products. Don't feel bad about the lemon slice in water, dear. I have to do it all the time!

Anonymous said...

Hi when someone peels an orange me I go into a severe asthma attack and feel like I will stop breathing, the sensation does not subside in my chest until the fruit is gone, each time gets worse, it is really frightening and has been happening to me for 2 years now, I myself am a registered nurse, I also react much the same way to perfumes and don't most perfumes have a citrus component, I am very concerned that I will have an anaphylactic reaction eventually

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Anonymous (the registered nurse). While you can't realistically control over all your own personal airspace, you can be personally prepared with your Epipen. And you will also need to train those around you to be sensitive to your allergy...Allergic Girl's book is a great resource on how to build a "Team You" support system so that you don't live in fear. But can be confident to handle it. Best,

The FAQ

Food Allergy Queen said...

whitejl13, I'm so sorry I took so long to respond, I missed your comment!

Has your child been tested by an allergist? Or have you self-diagnosed? I highly recommend getting her tested if she's having severe problems. You don't say what kind of reactions your daughter has. If you have an allergist, ask him/her about food allergy cross-reactions. Some fruits are related to Oral Allergy Syndrome, some are more active seasonally. I have a post about cross reactions here. http://www.foodallergyqueen.com/2007/04/food-allergy-cross-reactions.html

Citric acid is used liberally in most processed foods, esp drinks. If she is allergic to citrus I'd recommend avoiding processed foods as much as possible.

Some people outgrow foodallergies, some get new ones after several years. An allergist will be able to help explain better than I.

Best,

The FAQ

Anonymous said...

My Mother, a Nurse, heard about L-lycene as a means to stave off the affects of my citrus acid allergy. When I remember to take it I find that I do not break out in canker sores like I used to, but since I just tend to stay away from the highly acidic fruits anyway I do not take the suppliments as much as I should.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Anonymous, interesting about the L-lycene. Does it prevent reaction entirely? Or just minimize the effects of a citrus allergy? And does it only work for citrus? So many questions. :) Thanks!

The FAQ

Rae said...

I know what it is like to have a Citrus Allergy. I can't touch it and forget about eating it. A teacher when I was 16 gave us all orange water in a dixie cup before going out to perform on stage...for energy next thing I remember was the tunnel vision and then waking up in the rehearsal room with paramedics around me. My throat close up and apparently I died for a few minutes. From that time on I have to carry an eppi pen with me. Another problem I have is sour gum. It's really hard for me to fight off sickness when I get ill. So for everyone who has it no matter how little or severe it is I am there with you. I have been dealing with this since my mother was pregnant with me 24 years ago and substitution is a pain in the butt to find. Good luck to everyone who has to deal with this.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Yes, it's difficult to manage, but not impossible! I'm just about to post about citrus, so stick around. Please feel free to share here, or on my Facebook site with others who have a citrus allergy.

Thanks! The FAQ

Stephanie said...

So if they are using lime to formulate the citric acid then should it be avoided by someone with a citrus allergy? My Son was diagnosed with an allergy about 6 months ago, but is being retested next month to see if it is becoming more severe. The degree of reaction wasn't very severe but he has had a few reactions after exposure recently so we want to know if he needs an epi pen. We avoid all citrus fruits and their juices, but he does eat foods with citric acid. his skin is a constant disaster, rashes all over. I wonder if he's reacting to the citric acid. But how do you avoid that all together? it is in so many things! I did ask the allergist last week about citric acid and she said it was ok for him to eat it, but now I'm wondering. If they use lime to create it, then maybe he is reacting? He's starting preschool next fall and i worry about oranges or orange juice being in the room. Even a lot of fruit punch has orange juice in it. And they use lemon juice in SO many baby foods! I have a 9 month old and I am avoiding all baby foods that use lemon juice, it is in just about every brand. Sorry my post has no point, I just feel a bit of relief to know there are others out there with a citrus issue, I feel like many people think I'm overreacting when I freak about about them trying to feed my kid a piece of key lime pie or a sip of orange juice!

Food Allergy Queen said...

Stephanie, the easiest way to avoid citric acid is to try to avoid as many commerically-processed foods and drinks as you can. It's a low-cost preservative that many food companies use.

Soda, juices and even candy contain citrus. It's obvious he can't have just "a little bit", despite what your allergist says. You may need to cook a lot of safe baby foods yourself, and freeze them ahead of time so you don't need to rely so heavily on purchased ones.

You can't control every environment by yourself, so definitely talk to the school about managing the citrus he's exposed to. Also, please get Allergic Girl's book "Living well with food allergies" so that you learn some techniques on how to educate and manage others to keep your son safe and help empower him as well. Best, the FAQ

Stephanie said...

From what the allergist told me, she felt like citric acid was completely different than actual citrus, but I wonder if removing all citric acid would help clear up his skin. He loves fruit snacks and I know it is in all of those. I guess I'll have to figure out how to make home made fruit snacks. I check all labels for citrus juices/ingredients, but a lot of things just say 'natural flavors' which could mean citrus, but they don't specify. Even Panera makes sugar cookies with icing on them and after eating it I know it has lemon in the frosting, but the package just says 'natural flavorings'. Don't they realize people might be allergic to those 'natural flavorings?!' ARgh! Thanks for your help and I'll definitely check out that book!

Food Allergy Queen said...

While that may be true from a chemistry standpoint, if you still react to it then it's a good idea to avoid it. I've found that I react to anything that begins with citric- in the name. I just found out that ascorbic acid is another form of vitamin c, which may work better for nutritional reasons if he can't have real citrus. I got mine at Whole Foods.

Also, if you learn to make alternative tasty things, I'm sure he'll enjoy goodies other than fruit snacks for the sweet tooth. Best.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Stephanie, I found a recipe for making fruit rolls! Use a light-tasting vinegar (like champagne) or verjus instead of lemon juice. I'll post this to the main blog page as well. Good luck! The FAQ

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_fruit_leather/

kellea said...

I don't know if this is still up and running but I have a citrus allergy. I can't eat drink or touch anything with oranges, lemons, linear, grapefruit I'm also allergic to bananas. I can't even use lemon dish soap or pledge or I break out. I can smell oranges, lemons and limes from what seems a mile away and it gives me a head ache. I'm 20 and delt with this my whole life. I even stay away from artificially flavored things just in case. I've never known anyone else with this allergy or even how I came to be allergic. Thank you for the insight!

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Kellea, yes there are others with a citrus allergy, don't feel alone! I have the worst time when people peel oranges on airplanes, so I feel your pain. See an allergist to get a scratch test to make sure that you are only allergic to citrus, there are other things that could cross react. See my post on "cross reaction". Good luck! The FAQ

Dana Lede said...

I've been on an elimination diet and have had an endoscopy but not a blood allergy test yet. So far I cannot have any dairy at all, and I'm finding out that I can't have citrus and possibly citric acid either. Because of that I can't have any natural or artificial flavorings either. But I CRAVE orange juice as well as sweets. I don't know how I can live without cookies and baked goods, but everything seems to have dairy or citrus. What can I do?

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Dana, congrats on your path of finding out what does and doesn't work for you! You'll soon be feeling so much better that you'll wonder how you functioned before your diagnoses.

A few recos: most of the food allergy community believes that blood tests for food allergies tend to be inaccurate. And rely more on scratch tests. Here's a post about it. http://www.foodallergyqueen.com/2010/01/food-allergy-testing-which-type-is-best.html

As for avoiding dairy and citrus, and still having sweets--the simple truth is that it's time to learn to bake! There are literally no other guarantees to avoid your allergens. It's not only safer, but you'll feel more empowered to stay healthy when you have tasty treats already at home. Luckily, there are tons of resources out there now. Check out godairyfree.com, and Living Without magazine. Good luck! The FAQ

Cheryl said...

I was wondering.. Is there a difference in allergy or intolerance between a lime and a lemon? I had a customer that asked for a drink with a lemon on the rim. Most people opt for a lime. It was a busy night behind the bar and I inadvertently put a lime instead. The server came back with the drink and said the customer wants a whole new drink made because I put lime instead of lemon on the lip of the glass. Was the customer being difficult or could it be that they couldn't have the lime versus the lemon because of allergies or intolerance?

Anonymous said...

I noticed this a few years back.. at first with lemons.. then realised most citric fruits, plus vinegar had the same affect.. bringing me out in almost a middle aged acne.. and itchy skin and eyes.. This article has made very interesting reading especially as I have suffered itching in other areas due to soaps and shampoos but didnt realise a connection! .. I will now see my doctor about this as i've basically tried to avoid citric things up until now.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Cheryl, as someone who has sent back water because of my citrus allergy (cringeworthy), I understand that I'm being a pain in the butt. Not sure if your customer had an allergy or not. But the protein that causes food allergy is in both lemons and limes with a citrus allergy (I react to both in addition to oranges and grapefruits) so I'm guessing your customer was just picky. :)

Thanks for writing. The FAQ

Food Allergy Queen said...

Anonymous, glad to be able to help. Be prepared, the allergist will likely do a full range of testing, not just for citrus. That's what happened to me, and how I became the Queen. :) BTW, most allergy experts agree that skin tests are more accurate than blood tests. Also in the search box on my site you can look up "testing" to see the arguments for/against the different types of tests.

Good luck!

The FAQ

Jimmy said...

While I would not wish a citric acid allergy on anyone, it is good to know I am not alone. I just wanted to mention that citric acid is used as a wash on most prepackaged ready to eat produce ex. spinach (which contains citric acid anyway). It is also used as a produce wash in many restaurants. This wash has on more than one occasion been the culprit in my "dosing".

Food Allergy Queen said...

Jimmy, thanks for sharing the tip on the spinach! It's things like this that help all of us with food allergies. Best, The FAQ