Can I be allergic to rapeseed oil? If I have an allergy to pollen will I be allergic to rapeseed oil?
Some food allergies are more common than others. The 14 most common allergens (the food or ingredient that can cause allergic reactions) have been identified and are part of the regulations on food labelling. These allergens are cereals containing gluten (e.g. wheat, barley, rye), crustaceans (e.g. crab), molluscs (e.g. oysters), eggs, fish, peanuts, nuts, soybeans, milk, celery, mustard, sesame, lupin and sulphur dioxide. Rapeseed or rapeseed oils has not been identified as a common allergen.
Anaphylaxis Campaign, the UK charity operating for people at risk from severe allergic reactions, has not reported any allergic reactions shown to be triggered by refined vegetable oils including rapeseed oil. They explain that when oils go through a refining process, this typically removes the proteins (the components of a food that cause allergic reactions). The majority of people with allergy to a specific food can eat oil derived from that food so long as the oil has been fully refined, so cold pressed or virgin oils should be avoided.
However, if you think you are allergic to rapeseed oil then it is important to talk to a health professional. Allergies can be diagnosed clinically so a properly conducted allergy test can ascertain whether you have a seed allergy – when your body reacts to the protein in the seed. Sesame seed allergy is the most common of the seed allergies and people with an allergy to sesame seed cannot eat seeds or the oils made from it, because sesame oil contains some unrefined oil so will most likely present a risk.
Food intolerances are different from food allergies, and are not caused by the immune system. Allergy UK has a lot of good information about food intolerances. If you have an intolerance, rather than an allergy to seed oils, this can only be effectively diagnosed by exclusion diets. Common intolerances include lactose, salicylate or histamine intolerance. Seed oil intolerance is not common, but if you are intolerant then you will need to look at using other oils (e.g. peanut oil, olive oil or corn oil).
EU regulations state that the 14 most common allergens, which account for about 90% of allergic reactions to food in the EU, must be emphasised on food labelling. As rapeseed oil is not a common allergen, it won’t be highlighted on food labels. However, EU food information regulations do state that all vegetable oils must be specified, so the ingredient list will indicate whether rapeseed oil is included or not.