Common Food Allergens in Japan and How to Spot Them

Common Food Allergens in Japan and How to Spot Them

For anyone with allergies shopping for food (especially food with foreign packaging) can be difficult. We provide English translations for all the items we include in our Care Packages, but want to make sure that you are informed as possible as you continue to explore the vast world of Japanese cuisine. 

The most common allergens to watch out for in Japanese food are:

  • Fish and shellfish - can be found in broths and even pastries.
  • Soy - An essential ingredient in soy sauce, you may also find soy in soups, marinades and sauces. 
  • Wheat - Found in the majority of Japanese noodles, gluten can also be found in soy sauce and grain teas such as mugicha (barley tea). 
Common Food Allergens in Japan and How to Spot Them

In Japan, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery (MAFF) has created a legal requirement that all food manufacturers must indicate the following seven foods if they are included as an ingredient: 

  1. Buckwheat (蕎麦/そば)
  2. Crab (カニ)
  3. Egg (卵, たまご)
  4. Milk (乳)
  5. Peanuts (落花生/ピーナッツ)
  6. Shrimp (エビ)
  7. Wheat (小麦)

In addition to these seven ingredients, MAFF has also created a list of twenty ingredients that they recommend (not require) to be highlighted on product labels.

Here is a full list of the 27 allergens (the 7 required allergens are highlighted in red) commonly listed on Japanese foods:


ALLERGEN

PRONOUNCIATION

JAPANESE

Abalone

Awabi

あわび、アワビ

Apple

Ringo

りんご

Banana

Banana

バナナ

Beef

Gyu-niku

牛、牛肉

Buckwheat

Soba

蕎麦, そば、ソバ

Cashew Nuts

Kashu-natsu

カシューナッツ

Chicken

Tori-niku

鶏肉、鶏

Crab

Kani

カニ、蟹

Egg

Tamago

卵、たまご

Gelatin

Zera-chin

ゼラチン

Kiwi

Kiwi-furutsu

キウイ、キウイフルーツ

Mackerel

Saba

さば、サバ

Matsutake mushroom

Matsutake

松茸

Milk

Nyu

Orange

Orenji

オレンジ

Peach

Momo

もも、桃

Peanuts

Rakkasei or pi-natsu

落花生、ピーナッツ

Pork

Buta niku

豚、豚肉

Salmon

Sake

鮭、さけ

Salmon Roe

iIura

いくら

Sesame

Goma

ごま、ゴマ

Shrimp

Ebi

海老、エビ

Soy

Daizu

大豆

Squid

Ika

いか、イカ

Walnut

Kurumi

くるみ

Wheat

Komugi

小麦

Yam

Yama imo

山芋、やまいも


These allergens can sometimes be found listed on packages in a separate box and can be identified with the Japanese: "本製品のアレルギー物質" (Allergens in this product)

Learn more about how to read nutrition labels in Japan.

2 Responses

Kokoro Care Packages

Kokoro Care Packages

May 07, 2021

Thank you for your comment gregory miyata. MSG isn’t one of the allergens required or recommended to be listed by the MAFF but is one we ensure is not in any of our products

gregory miyata

gregory miyata

May 07, 2021

You omitted one very common seasoning that most Japanese foods contain—-MSG…monosodium glutamate. My mom used it all the time when growing up. Sad to say, our daughter has an allergy to it as it gives her migraine headaches for a day…and I hear many younger generation of kids also suffer from that allergy

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