If you thought peanut allergies were bad, meet what may be a far worse affliction: Approximately 2% to 3% of the population suffers from severe allergies to spices, according to a presentation Friday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Anaheim by its past president, Dr. Sami Bahna.
Spices are everywhere. So while it may be possible to avoid peanuts and other common allergens when dining at restaurants, the ubiquity of spices makes eating out extremely difficult, and can also restrict the use of store-bought and processed foods, as spices are not always listed on packaging.
According to Bahna, women are more likely than men to suffer from spice allergies because many cosmetic products, including makeup and body oils, contain spices that can set off reactions on the skin.
And on the food front, spice mixes make matters worse because people allergic to one or a few spices often don’t know what they’re dealing with. A curry powder, for example, can contain any combination of dozens of spices.