The tomato is one of the most widely cultivated and eaten fruits in the world. British tomato production alone amounts to around 75,000 tonnes a year, with collected UK consumption totalling a huge 500,000 tonnes.
Compared to the amount we eat, reactions to tomatoes are not considered to be very common. This could largely be in part to the nature of the intolerance, with symptoms often taking a while to form, sometimes showing up as late as 72 hours after tomatoes have been ingested.
With such a slow onset time, reactions to tomato can easily be dismissed or attributed to other factors. If you’re unsure of whether tomato is having a negative effect on you, this article on tomato allergy and intolerance should help.
What is the difference between a tomato allergy and intolerance?
There are a few main distinguishers between the symptoms of tomato allergies and tomato intolerance.
Tomato allergies can be noted for their quick onset time, with symptoms being displayed in most cases immediately after consumption of the ingredient. Meanwhile, the onset times of tomato intolerance can often vary depending on the amount eaten, and on the consumer. Some people may show signs of intolerance a few minutes after consumption, some a few hours, and some a few days.
Another difference exists between the severities of the symptoms experienced. For some tomato allergy sufferers, merely touching the food can provoke a reaction. In addition, tomatoes are a member of the Solanaecae (Nightshade) plant family which also includes potatoes, peppers and aubergines. Members of this plant family contain substances called alkaloids that can be irritant to certain people, in particular arthritis sufferers. Cultivation of tomatoes often involves spraying with pesticides and this too can result in intolerance type symptoms; many cultures remove the skins of tomatoes before eating them.
True tomato intolerance, however, rarely presents a life threatening risk but this is not to downplay the negative effects the intolerance can have, making day to day life difficult for sufferers. It should also be noted that tomato intolerance isn’t always a lifelong problem. To find out whether you have a tomato intolerance, why not try our Food&DrinkScan?
What are the symptoms of tomato reactions?
Varying in severity and frequency depending on individual cases, symptoms can include:
- Stomach bloating
- Stomach pain
- Skin rash/eczema
- Tingling lips
- Itching sensation in the throat
- Aches and pains
As stated, if you find yourself exhibiting any of these symptoms immediately after eating tomatoes, you may have a tomato allergy or be reacting to substances in or on the tomatoes. If you have any of these symptoms up to a few days after eating tomatoes, a tomato intolerance is more probable.
What does tomato intolerance mean for your diet?
If you think you’re intolerant to any food, it goes without saying that it’s worthwhile cutting it from your diet. Depending on the severity and frequency of your reactions, it may be possible to simply restrict tomato, rather than fully eliminate it. It’s a good idea to try remove tomato from your diet completely for a short period of time, in order to monitor whether symptoms subside or carry on, and try find the solution that works best for you. This means the removal of not just fresh tomato, but also tomato products, including ketchup and pasta sauces.
At the same time tomatoes are a very nutritious food and an easy snack, containing beta-carotene, Vitamin C and lycopene – all important nutrients. Tomatoes should not be removed from your diet unless absolutely necessary.
If you think you might have a tomato intolerance, but are unsure, why not try our comprehensive Food & Drink Scan Programme.
Choose the test that's right for you
Emily Catterall, 24: IBS
“I feel like I’m in a new body! I’m so much healthier. I can’t tell you how amazingly different I have felt since!”
Sally Gunnell OBE, 52: Energy levels
“I’m not waking up as much during the night, not as bunged up in my nose and I’ve got so much more energy”