Allergic to Food Odors and Smells

Peanut butter sandwich with a brown paper bag and bunch of grapes
Allergic reactions from the smell of peanut butter are rare.. Tetra Images - Jamie Grill/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Is it Possible to Be Allergic to Odors or Smells Emitted from Foods?

Possibly. While it is considered to be very rare, allergic reactions from breathing in vapors from foods have been reported to a variety of different foods. These types of reactions only occur in the most sensitive of food-allergic people.

The most commonly reported of these types of reactions have occurred as a result of seafood-allergic people inhaling odors from cooking fish and shellfish.

Less common foods, that when cooked release odors that have caused allergic reactions include potatoes, eggs, milk and hot dogs. In addition, reports of allergic reactions to packages of peanuts being opened on airplanes has been reported – which has led to a debate on the safety of peanuts being served on airplanes.

Fortunately, allergic reactions from inhaling food odors are extremely rare. People with food allergies have enough to worry about – especially hidden ingredients in foods to which they are allergic. Most don’t – and shouldn’t – worry about food allergens floating in the air that could cause them to have an allergic reaction. Still, it’s probably best for the shellfish-allergic person to not visit Red Lobster, rather than to go that restaurant and simply order the chicken.

Find out more about shellfish allergy.


Bahna SL. Unusual Presentations of Food Allergy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol.


Polasani R, Melgar L, Reisman RE, Ballow M. Hot Dog Vapor-Induced Status Asthmaticus. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1997;78:35–6.

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