Foods & chemicals commonly avoided by those with OFG or gut crohns

This list is of items avoided by me, and by other people who follow a benzoate-free and cinnamate-free diet.  It includes things from the Guys Hospital list and other items that I’ve figured out through trial and error and through a facebook support group.

The Guys Hospital list is brilliant but it is limited and there are definately some things that cause reactions for people with OFG that it doesn’t list.

If any reader thinks of other items that should be included, which I’ve missed off, then please let me know.

This list is probably one of the strictest you will read as it takes into account several people’s personal experiences as well as all of the lists and other advice sheets around.  Readers do NOT have to stick rigidly to this list, indeed I do not advise sticking rigidly to it, but it may give a good start to people with out of control OFG who don’t know where to begin in finding their triggers.

It also includes some advice for people who have, or suspect they have, gut crohns as well as OFG but this is not the primary purpose and shouldn’t be relied upon to control gut crohns.

That said, here goes…


Most meat is okay, except things that aren’t ‘pure’ (e.g. sausages) and that have forbidden additives or ingredients.


Avoid Cod and prawns

Some people react to other types of shellfish

The fresher the fish the better – try and go for very freshly caught, or for frozen, rather than fish that’s been sat at the fish counter for several days


Blue cheese and gorgonzola need to be avoided

Check out ingredients on flavoured cheeses, yoghurts, ice creams, milk shake drinks etc. to be sure none of them are forbidden

Some people react to live yoghurt

Some people react to eggs, especially egg whites.  Try Goose or duck eggs as an alternative to hen’s eggs

Some people prefer goats milk to cows milk

Some people prefer mild cheeses over mature cheeses

Vegetables & vegetable-based additives

Avoid spinach, rocket, dark green salad leaves, tomatoes, avocado

Avoid kidney beans and soya beans

Avoid pumpkin.  Some people react badly to other squashes e.g. butternut

Some people react badly to other red beans (e.g. aduki)

Be very careful with tomato products added to processed foods – even if you believe that you will be safe with fresh tomato you may find you react badly to tomato puree, tomato powder, sundried tomato etc.

Avoid soya in all it’s forms, not just beans – watch for soya milk/powder/protein/lecithin/isolate and others.

Some people react to mushrooms.  Wild or speciality mushrooms e.g. shitake can be particularly bad.


Avoid anything with a stone (e.g. dates, peaches, plums)

Avoid anything dried or preserved

Avoid anything that’s a type of berry (cranberry, strawberry, blackberry, gooseberry, etc) – this is especially important, berries often cause the worst reactions in anyone, and some people will react to berries before, or quicker, than they react to anything else

Most (but not all) people react to currants

Some people react to apples

Some people react to navel oranges or mandarin oranges or both

Some people react to passion fruit

Please check out my post, for specific advice about fruit

Grains, flours, nuts, seeds and cereals

Most people have no problems with cereals

Watch other ingredients and additives which are on your avoid list, especially soya

Watch for non-EU produced/sold white flour as it may be bleached with benzoates.  If you cannot get hold of EU-produced flour you may wish to stick with products that are specifically labelled as ‘unbleached’

If you have or suspect gut crohns you may wish to avoid cereals with too much gluten in them as gluten-free grains are often easier to tolerate

Some people react to pumpkin seeds

Some people react to caraway seeds

Some people react to walnuts

Herbs and spices

Avoid Cinnamon

Avoid Cloves

Avoid Sage

Avoid Nutmeg

Avoid Aloe Vera

Avoid Allspice

Avoid any spice mixes, mixed spice, spice extracts or ‘spices’ on labels that don’t specify their make-up as they may contain forbidden spice

Avoid any herb mixes, mixed herbs, herb extracts or ‘herbs’ on labels that don’t specify their make-up as they may contain sage

Some people react badly to Mace

Some people react badly to tumeric

Some people react badly to chilli

Some people react badly to mustard

Hot drinks

Avoid the classic ‘tea’ bush in all it’s forms (black, green, white and decaf tea)

Avoid any herbal teas that contain forbidden ingredients

Some people react to camomile, rosehip and/or nettle

Avoid hot chocolate and cocoa

Cold drinks & alcohol

Avoid any drinks flavoured with or made with forbidden fruits

Avoid any colas

Avoid perfumed spirits or liqueurs, e.g. Tia Maria

Some people react to artifically sweetened drinks

Some people react to fizzy drinks

Sweets & sweet stuff

Avoid chocolate or cocoa in any form (white, milk and dark)

Avoid fruit flavoured sweets if they contain real fruit juice

Avoid cola-flavoured sweets

Watch for preservatives in sweets

Some people react badly to honey

Some people react badly to jams & marmalades, even if they are made with all safe ingredients


Avoid tomato and soya in all their formats when added to pre-processed foods

Avoid benzoate preservatives (E210-E219)

Avoid benzoyl peroxide bleaching agent (E928)

Some people struggle with sorbates, sulphites and/or nitrites

Avoid any chemical or additive whose name contains a variation of the word ‘cinnamon’, for example ‘cinnamal’, ‘cinnamate’, etc.

Some people struggle with almost all varieties of E-numbers/chemical-based food additives, so to begin with you may wish to keep a diary of those you have and those you seem to react to.

Pharmecuticals, drugs & medicines

Avoid vitamin supplements

*Avoid any non-steroidal anti inflamatories (this includes things like Ibruprofen/neurofen)

*Avoid Asprin and products that contain asprin (may also be listed in ingredients as acetylsalicylic acid, salicylic acid, or acetoxybenzoic acid)

*Avoid Enteric-coated medication

*Read closely the ingredients list on any medication that comes as a liquid or gel and avoid those with forbidden additives in them – however almost all seem to contain benzoate preservatives

*If you need injections to control an illness, ask about non-injectable alternatives first as many injectable drugs also contain benzoate-preservatives

*unless specifically prescribed by a knowledgable doctor who is prepared to help you deal with the resulting symptoms of your OFG/crohns, or who believes the damage done by not taking them would be worse than the pain and discomfort caused by the OFG/crohns  DON’T TAKE ANY OF THESE AS SHOP BOUGHT, PHARMACY RECOMMENDED OR OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATIONS

Toiletries & cleaning chemicals

Avoid products that use Aloe Vera

Avoid products that are scented with a forbidden foodstuff

Read labels carefully as many products, including those marketed as ‘medicated’, ‘mild’, ‘baby’, ‘simple’ or ‘sensitive’ contain benzoates.  Choose strictly benzoate-free products only.

Avoid any product that has Hexyl Cinnamal as a scent or perfume, or that just lists ‘perfume/parfum’ as an ingredient without specifying what it is

Some people react to Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulphate/Sulfate

Some people react to products that contain a chemical with the name ‘paraben’.

Other sensitivities

Some people react to other substances in foods as well as benzoates.  The three main reactors are



Citric Acid

I have included some of the more common reactors in the above list but if you are still getting OFG symptoms you may have to cut a large number of otherwise safe foodstuffs out.

For Gluten, you need to omit wheat, barley, rye and oats, and ALL byproducts of these.  Packets have to, by law, state if a foodstuff contains gluten so this is managed by reading labels correctly.

For Histamine content, see

For Citric Acid content, see

9 Responses to Foods & chemicals commonly avoided by those with OFG or gut crohns

  1. Tiger says:

    I don’t react to detergents but some people do. The ‘benz’ prefix by itself does not necessarily mean that a chemical is unsafe. I will find a list of the chemical names of the E-numbers and get back to you.

  2. Tiger says:

    E210 Benzoic acid
    E211 Sodium benzoate
    E212 Potassium benzoate
    E213 Calcium benzoate
    E214 Ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate
    E215 Sodium ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate
    E218 Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
    E219 Sodium methyl p-hydroxybenzoate

  3. Alicia z says:

    Thank you for all of your research! Your site has been so helpful.
    Just found out about my sodium benzoate / benzoic acid intolerance. A lot of light bulbs going off and information is hard to find.
    Does avoiding cocoa mean avoiding all chocolate?

    • Tiger says:

      hi, thank you for the compliment! And yes, avoiding cocoa means avoiding all chocolate – white, milk, and dark/plain, and avoiding cosmetics and toiletries that contain cocoa butter too.
      We also need to avoid the vast majority of chocolate-flavoured things e.g. chocolate cake, mocha, etc. However there is one small concession – carob tastes and looks ‘mostly’ like cocoa and is safe for many.
      Hope this helps.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Your site is so helpful. I’ve known about my benzoate allergy for years but I’m still learning. Finding information has been difficult. I’m curious if you or anyone has had a reaction to grapes. Is it considered a berry?

  5. Wendy says:

    I am experimenting with going benzoate free for a fibromyalgia diagnosis and it seems to be working so far. But I have to add a few foods which I think I have been having a reaction to and your method of analysis has shown benzoates:
    Macadamia nuts –
    Maya nut and figs –

    Also I have contact dermatitis to all colophony products – this is sometimes called pine rosin or colophony and can be found in chewing gum as well as adhesives etc. Have you been asked about the link between benzoates and colophony. From my research most pine varieties have vanillic acid which might explain it.

  6. Jacalyn Twentyman says:

    Thanks for your site it is a lifesaver!
    Just wondering why nurofen is on the list?
    I am suffering after using it this week and will avoid in future just wondering why it causes reactions.

  7. Rosalind Boyd says:

    Excellent resource. Been Struggling. Thanks

  8. Grendel's Mother says:

    I’d just like to say thank you very much for your research and for making it available. We are currently waiting on the results of biopsies (mouth and bowel) taken from my daughter (mid teens) and have been asked to follow the C&B diet so we can feed any changes back to the consultant when she calls with the results in three weeks time.

    We were handed a very slim leaflet containing a list of what she couldn’t have and her dad and I were pretty much like deer in headlights studying it. A couple of days on we’ve had a good look through your site and have compiled a meal plan based on the information we have found.

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