Food Challenge Test

A food challenge test is performed to determine which food may cause a food allergy and the amount of food it takes to trigger the allergic reaction.

Foods that commonly trigger food allergies include nuts (peanuts), shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat, and soy.

During a food challenge test, the suspected food is eaten while being closely monitored for allergy symptoms and under the supervision of medical personnel that can administer emergency treatment, such as epinephrine for anaphylaxis.

A food challenge test will usually take about 4-8 hours. If a child is having the food challenge a parent will need to be present for the duration of the test.

The test begins with the consumption of a very small amount of the suspected food. If allergy symptoms do not develop, the amount consumed may be increased every 30 to 60 minutes.

In complex cases, the food challenge test may be administered as a hidden or double blind placebo test. During a hidden food challenge the suspected food is hidden in another food, such as ice cream or chocolate pudding, so that it cannot be tasted. This can be helpful for children who might reject the suspected food. During a double blind placebo controlled food challenge test, neither you nor the doctor know if the suspected food is included in the food being eaten.

Once the food challenge is done your doctor will discuss the results with you and make recommendations regarding food avoidance and other measures.

Getting ready for the food challenge test.

Your doctor may ask you to bring in a specific food for the food challenge.  Please bring the food the morning of the test. If your child is having a food challenge, you may also be asked to bring a favorite food in which to place the food to be challenged.

Some medications can reduce allergic symptoms and alter the results of the test. Speak to your doctor about stopping the following medications before the food challenge test.

  • Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine (Alavert, Claritin) and others.
  • Leukotriene inhibitors, such as zafirlukast (Accolate), montelukast (Singulair), zileuton (Zyflo)
  • Antidepressants, such as doxepin)
  • Ulcer medications, such as cimetedine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine (Axid)

Some of these medications may need to be stopped 3-5 days before the test.

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Last updated: 5/13/2022