The Most Common Undeclared Food and Drink Ingredients in the US

The Most Common Undeclared Food and Drink Ingredients in the US

2 minute read time

Living with an allergy or food sensitivity can be challenging on a daily basis.

From meticulously going through a list of ingredients on the back of a jar, to carefully planning your meals, each item we pick up from the supermarket shelf often needs to be fully inspected to ensure that it doesn’t contain any ingredients that could trigger a reaction or worsen food sensitivity symptoms.

It’s estimated that 32 million Americans live with a food allergy, while over 200,000 people in the US require medical attention for an allergic reaction each year.

Whether you suffer from a food sensitivity or an allergy, it’s vital we know exactly what we are eating.

But what if checking labels isn’t enough?

Undeclared ingredients in food products not only increase the risk of worsening food sensitivities, but can prove life-threatening for someone who suffers from an allergy. To find out the most commonly undeclared ingredients, food sensitivity specialists YorkTest analyzed FDA product data from over 620 food and drink items recalled from supermarket shelves.

39% of all product recalls for missing ingredients on grocery store shelves are as a result of undeclared milk, with the item topping the list.

Perhaps more worryingly, milk is also considered to be one of the most common allergens at fault for the majority of severe allergic reactions in the US.

Also finishing high in the list of undeclared recalled ingredients is egg, with 18% of all recalls from the FDA due to undeclared ingredients. It’s estimated that 2.6 million Americans suffer from an egg allergy while stats for food sensitivity are expected to be greater.

Rounding out the rest of the top five are soy, peanut and wheat, all of which join milk and egg in the most common allergens responsible for a majority of severe allergic reactions.

Top 20 most common undeclared ingredients

Kerri Ferraioli, expert nutritionist at YorkTest, commented on the research:

“Some of the key findings in this research were shocking.

“The fact that seven of the eight most common ingredients responsible for the majority of severe allergic reactions in the US, also appear in the top 10 list of undeclared ingredients is incredibly concerning.

“People may be eating something they may otherwise avoid had the product been accurately labelled and as we can see from this research, this can have life-threatening consequences for those with a food allergy.

“Those with food sensitivities can also struggle,  with no way of managing their symptoms if food and drink products aren’t properly labeled and declared. Manufacturers need to take greater care in the labeling and declaration of their products to reduce the risk of reaction among those with allergies or sensitivities.”


We analyzed FDA product data from over 620 food and drink products that were recalled due to undeclared ingredients to determine which ingredients were most commonly undeclared within products.

The ingredients were then ranked in a list of 20.

Supporting Data and statistics:

Data is correct as of September 2022


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