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If you have food allergies, you’re not alone. It’s been estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. There are also more options than ever for people who are trying to avoid foods they are allergic to, but you have to watch out for foods you wouldn’t ever expect to be allergic to.  

Lactose, gluten, nuts, and more can end up in a wide variety of food. The next time you go to the grocery store, make sure to check the food labels on the items in your cart to make sure you aren’t accidentally putting yourself at risk. 

 

Lactose 

You know to avoid dairy products, but did you ever think about having to avoid…potato chips? Plain potato chips are often safe, but flavored chips can contain milk. Sour cream and onion, or cheddar aren’t the only flavors to be cautious of either. Lactose can also be in barbecue, dill pickle, and more flavors of chips. 

Chips aren’t the only culprit of course. Milk can also end up in some brands of plain crackers, as well as granola bars. Beyond snacks, make sure to check the packaging of your meat. That’s right; items like all beef hotdogs, frozen chicken strips, or fish sticks may contain milk. Also be careful of anything with tomato sauce—most aren’t just tomatoes and spices.  

 

Nuts 

Nuts would seem pretty basic to avoid…except when you realize all of the forms they can come in. Surprisingly, nut butter can be used in a variety of foods as a thickening agent, including items like chili. In addition, nut oil is used to fry foods in certain restaurant chains. Nuts can also be used as substitute ingredients for other common allergens. If you’re looking for gluten-free flour, it may contain nuts. If you’re looking for lactose-free dairy, guess what they use instead? 

The food that may surprise you most on this list isn’t food at all: it is vodka.  Many vodka makers now infuse their vodkas with flavors like hazelnut. Gins and beers are also known to contain tree nuts like almond or walnuts for flavor.  

 

Gluten 

Gluten allergies are becoming more common, and gluten insensitivity is very common. Gluten also can sneak up on you in unexpected foods, so it’s essential to check the labels. Seasoning mixes often contain gluten, and a lot of prepared foods like rotisserie chicken use such seasonings. Sauces like soy also contain gluten.  

Some items are commonly gluten-free, but may not be in some instances. Ice cream can be gluten-free, but flavors like cookie dough introduce gluten into the ice cream. Candy is another item which is hit or miss when it comes to having gluten.  

 

If you have an allergy, always check your food labels. Common allergens can show up in many foods you would not expect.