What is a food allergy test?

A food allergy test, or food allergy challenge,  is a test carried out in hospital to see if your child is able to eat a certain food. Your child may have a food allergy test if other allergy tests have not given us a clear answer about whether they have an allergy or not.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction might include:

  • itching
  • rashes
  • swelling
  • diarrhoea/ vomiting (being sick)
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • anaphylaxis.

How can a food allergy test help your child?

Food allergy tests are a safe way to find out if your child is able to eat a food. If they have a food allergy test and it is positive, we would advise to avoid the food, issue emergency medications in case of a reaction and start a treatment plan.

This treatment is used to make your family’s life easier by making eating outside the family home easier, reducing the time you spend checking labels helping parents with the worry that their child may have an allergic reaction. We will help you recognise the signs of an allergic reaction and how to treat it.

What happens during a food allergy test?

Your child might have an allergic reaction during a food allergy test, which is why it is carried out in hospital.

If your child does have an allergic reaction, they will not eat any more of the food and will be given medicine to stop it. Our specialist team will be on hand to monitor and ensure your child’s safety.

Our food allergy tests are conducting in three parts:

  1. Telephone pre-assessment consultation one week prior to your child’s food allergy test. During this call, one of our specialist allergy nurses will answer any questions that you may have and advise you on the full details of the upcoming food allergy test as well as what you need to do to prepare.
  2. You and your child will then come into hospital for the testing. Depending on your child’s allergy, the test will be either an incremental food allergy challenge or an FPIES challenge (we also challenge some medications). Your child will then eat a specific amount of the food under hospital supervision in case they have an allergic reaction. This will consist of eating 4 or 5 doses of the food we are testing over a 4 to 5 hour period. After eating a full portion of the food under controlled conditions, and the team is happy with the outcome, it will be recommended that your child has portions of the food 2-3 times per week.
  3. Telephone dietetic follow-up appointment: one month post-test, where patients pass the food allergy challenge, one of the allergy dieticians will have a post-test dietetic review with the parent/guardian.

Discover our children's allergy experts

From comprehensive allergy assessments to specialised interventions, our paediatric allergy experts are dedicated to providing personalised care for your child.