Allergenic Foods and their Allergens, with links to Informall

Spices and Herbs

Mortar and pestle containing pepper and six ceramic dishes of spices.
A collection of various Spices and Herbs.


A large range of plant derived products are used as spices (e.g. dried seeds, fruits, root, bark) and herbs (e.g. leaves), often varying widely around the world. Although spices and herbs are usually only added in small quantities to add flavor to foods, this may be sufficient to trigger adverse reactions. The most problematic spices for the allergic consumer appear to be celery and mustard. Other allergenic ingredients may be used as a carrier for spice blends.

Some of the allergens in these foods are heat stable (e.g. from celery) and may retain their allergenic potential even after food processing. Others may be heat labile and easily degraded. In any case, many herbs are added freshly after cooking (e.g. parsley, basil, chives) and are not exposed to heating.

Allergy to spices and herbs often involves local reactions in the oral cavity causing itching of the mucosa, swelling of lips and tongue (oral allergy syndrome). Reactions have commonly been reported to anis, celery, coriander, cumin, fennel, parsley, ragweed, Echinacea, artichoke, dandelions and hibiscus35,36.

For more detailed information on these foods please follow the links:

Stalks of celery.



Mustard seeds.



Updated 10 March, 2014