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Cooking Oil Allergies: What’s Safe?

Potato wedges in fryer oil

Updated February 19, 2024

Can Fried Foods Give Me an Allergic Reaction?

Potato wedges in fryer oil

Food allergies are no joke when someone’s health is at risk, making cooking oil management of utmost importance. Researchers estimate as many as 15 million Americans have food allergies ranging from moderate food intolerances to severe reactions. A food allergy is the abnormal response of the immune system to proteins in foods, and any food with protein has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in vulnerable individuals. If you have food allergies, you  might be wondering, “Can fried foods give me an allergic reaction?” Restaurant Technologies is here to answer your questions about the best practices surrounding cooking oil allergies. 

The “Big Eight” 

According to the Soy Connection, eight food groups – the “Big Eight” – account for more than 90% of all food allergies worldwide and include milk, eggs, fish, crustacea, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soybeans. 

Don’t Sweat the Cooking Oil Stuff

While the “Big Eight” gives you plenty to be diligently mindful of in your kitchen, there’s one ingredient you may not have to sweat over – cooking oil. Never wanting to put a customer’s health in jeopardy, a  common question among restaurant owners is whether soybean and refined peanut oil are safe for consumers with food allergies. 

You may be surprised to know these types of oils are generally regarded as safe to consume by those vulnerable to allergic reactions and it all has to do with the processing method. Most soybean and peanut oil is manufactured via the hot-solvent extraction process with refining, bleaching and deodorizing in the United States. This process removes virtually all of the oil’s proteins – which are the main components of an allergic reaction.  

The FDA has even exempted highly refined oils, including soybean and peanut, from being labeled as allergens because of the processing method and removal of proteins. Studies have shown that most individuals with soy or peanut allergies can safely eat foods cooked in these oils depending on the processing method.  

Can You Have a Cooking Oil Allergy?

While it’s rare to be allergic to the cooking oil itself, individuals with allergies to specific plant sources used in oil production may experience allergic reactions. Cross-contamination during manufacturing processes is also a potential concern. If you suspect an allergy to cooking oil, consult an allergist for proper evaluation, and always err on the side of caution.1

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A Guide on Specific Oil Allergies

While most cooking oils are generally considered safe for individuals with food allergies, some exceptions exist. Let’s take a closer look at the potential for food allergens in vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and peanut oil.

  • Vegetable Oil Allergy: Vegetable oil is a commonly used cooking oil that is often derived from a blend of various plant sources, such as soybeans, sunflower seeds, and corn. While vegetable oil itself is not typically an allergen, individuals with allergies to specific plant sources from which the oil is derived should exercise caution. For instance, if you have a soy allergy, check the source of the vegetable oil, as soybean oil is a common component.
  • Canola Oil Allergy: Canola oil allergies are rare, but individuals with allergies to plants in the Brassicaceae family, which includes mustard, rapeseed, and the canola plant, may want to avoid canola oil.
  • Soybean Oil Allergy: Soybean oil is a prevalent cooking oil, but it’s often considered safe for individuals with soy allergies due to the extensive refining process it undergoes. The removal of proteins during refining significantly reduces the risk of allergic reactions. However, individuals with severe soy allergies should consult their healthcare provider before consuming foods cooked in soybean oil.
  • Peanut Oil Allergy: Peanut oil is commonly used in frying. Highly refined peanut oil, like soybean oil, is usually safe for those with peanut allergies due to the removal of allergenic proteins. Nonetheless, individuals with severe peanut allergies should exercise caution.2

Can a Fryer Oil Carry Allergens?

While fryer oil allergy is rare, oil contamination is a serious issue for those with allergies. Fryer oils, especially those used in commercial kitchens, may pose a risk of cross-contamination if they are used to fry allergenic foods. It’s important for restaurants to have strict protocols to avoid cross-contact between different foods to protect customers with allergies.

Be Careful With Cold-Pressed Oils

While highly refined is generally regarded as safe, some refined oils are made by cold pressing (also known as expeller processing) where soybeans and peanuts are squeezed to produce the oil. This manufacturing method is less processed and does not remove protein so they should not be consumed by those who have food allergies. Cold-pressed oils are typically found in grocery or retail stores and are rarely used as a bulk oil ingredient. 

Can Certain Cooking Oils Make You Sick?

While cooking oils are generally safe when used correctly and are properly preserved, consuming rancid or spoiled oils can lead to digestive issues.3 It’s essential to store and use cooking oils properly to prevent degradation and cooking oil foaming, discarding any oils that have gone bad.

Stay Vigilant  

While your fryer cooking oil may not be a danger for customers with food allergies, other areas of your kitchen may be putting them at risk. To create a safer dining experience, hang food allergen posters in your kitchens so employees are mindful of food preparation and reminded of the dangers of cross-contamination. Additionally, Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc. offers a SafeFARE program where employees can complete an allergens course to get your restaurant on an “allergy aware” restaurant database. 

If individuals are allergic to specific kinds of food they should always discuss with their doctor what they can or cannot safely eat. The FDA advises consumers who are allergic to particular foods to ask questions about ingredients and preparation when eating at restaurants or any place outside of their home. An easy and effective way to help inform your consumers of potential allergen risks is to put ingredient disclaimers and/or statements on menus. The key to avoiding a potential allergen risk is training, transparency, and prevention. Contact Restaurant Technologies for more tips on keeping your oil usage safe for all consumers.


  1. Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc., https://www.foodallergy.org/ 
  2. Soy Connection Newsletter, Volume 11, Number 2, “Soyfoods and Allergens: Separating Fact from  Fiction”, http://www.soyconnection.com/sites/default/files/SCNv11n2.pdf 
  3. FDA, Food Allergens Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/default.html
  4. Crevel RW, Kerkhoff MA, Koning MM. Allergenicity of refined vegetable oils. Food Chem Toxicol. 2000 Apr;38(4):385-93. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(99)00158-1. PMID: 10722892.
  5. More, D. (2023, August 1). Beware of Cooking Oils If You Have a Food Allergy. Verywell Health. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/allergies-to-cooking-oils-82883
  6. Rancidity. (2021, March 31). Rancidity – Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from https://inspection.canada.ca/food-safety-for-consumers/fact-sheets/specific-products-and-risks/commonly-occurring-issues-in-food/rancidity/eng/1617202761447/1617202761868

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