What is celery allergy?

Celery is that well known strong tasting vegetable, commonly thought to contain fewer calories than the energy used to consume it. Made up mostly of water, it’s amazing that this unassuming green food stuff is so widely used for its crunchy leafy stalks, root and seeds in food flavourings across the world. Celery is part of the carrot family, plants having flowers in umbels, also including parsley, anise, caraway and dill.

Celery allergy seems to be far more common in central Europe, mainly France, Switzerland and Germany, and less so in the UK and US, where peanut allergy is the most common. It is one of the small number of foods, the biggest being peanut, that appear to provoke the most severe allergic reactions; for people with celery allergy, exposure can cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.

Cooking celery does not destroy the proteins which cause the allergic reaction. Celery root, commonly eaten as celeriac, or put into drinks, is known to contain more allergen than the stalk, however the seeds contain the highest levels of allergen content. Dried celery or spice is also highly allergenic and likely to cause a reaction if a person is sensitive to raw celery. Exercise-induced anaphylaxis may be exacerbated and an allergic reaction can be triggered by eating foods that have been processed with machines that have previously processed celery, making avoiding such foods difficult. For this reason celery is noted on allergy labelling with as much importance as peanut.

Celery Hellery from People for the Awareness of Celery Allergy (PACA) Facebook page

Source: People for the Awareness of Celery Allergy (PACA) Facebook page

Allergy to celery seems to be linked to people with seasonal hay fever to birch and/or mugwort pollen (usually March/April). This is called cross-reaction and is often an important cause of food allergies.

Celery allergy due to cross-reactivity occurs at certain times of the year, i.e when the pollen of the wormwood plants and birch trees trigger celery allergy as they have similar cell structure to the celery plant.

Read Alex Gazzola’s interesting article, Oral Allergy Syndrome

From Bacon Wizard, Jasper Ackroyd on the Foods Matter website, celery also contains high levels of nitrate, even more than is found in bacon, so it is often used as a “flavour”, a great way for food manufacturers to get large amounts of nitrate into the recipe undetected and undeclared.

There are also phenols, or natural chemicals called apigenins in celery. Whilst these are thought to have good effects on the body for some people, it could be these that trigger allergic reactions to celery in others.

How to spot the symptoms of celery allergy

The first signs of an allergic reaction are usually a tingling and itching sensation of the mouth, lips, throat and tongue, a minute or two after eating celery. Symptoms including raised bumps and itching, can also spread to the face and eyelids; the skin rash, along with hives, swelling and eczema is another symptom.

Extreme swelling of the throat may cause constriction of the airways, which can result in breathing difficulties, asthma, sneezing, coughing and wheezing. The allergic reactions might also include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and stomach cramping. In severe situations, patient suffer from anaphylaxis with various symptoms like rapid pulse, sudden drop in blood pressure, confusion, slurred speech and loss of consciousness. If not treated swiftly and correctly with adrenalin and hospital admission it may even result in death.

Which foods contain celery?

Celery can be hidden in many food stuffs, and not just the obvious salads, sandwiches and soups. It is often used in stocks, stock cubes and gravy, ready meals, sauces, crisp flavouring and spice mixes. It is often used in oriental cooking as a flavour enhancer. It is very difficult to avoid celery in restaurants as it’s not commonly listed in menu ingredients and can be found hidden in so many things.

Top 5 lifesaving celery free cupboard essentials

Look what we found free from soup

Look What We Found allergen free soup

  1. Celery free soup – There are a couple of brands of tinned soup that don’t contain celery. So far I’ve discovered the Free & Easy range, Suma and Look What We Found Pea and Ham soup. This latter is by far my favourite at the moment. It’s got big bits of ham in it and is almost as tasty as home made soup.
  2. The Free & Easy range includes Leek and Potato and Green pea.
    • Leak and Potato – Ingredients: water, potato 13%, leek 8%, red lentils, onions, sunflower oil, sea salt and pepper
    • Green pea – Ingredients: water, peas 24%, corn syrup, sunflower oil, sea salt, parsley, black pepper.

    Watch out though, their parsnip soup, though sometimes not labelled, does contain celery in the vegetable bouillon. Ingredients: Water, Parsnips (14%) Red Lentils (4.8%) Onions, Rice Flour, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Bouillon (Sea Salt, Yeast Extract, Rice Flour, Palm Oil, Onion, Celery, Carrot, Parsley, Turmeric, Sea Salt). Sometimes this parsnip soup only says ‘vegetable bouillon’ on the ingredients and doesn’t list out the actual things in it.

  3. Look What We Found Pea and Ham soup ingredients:(NO LONGER AVAILABLE) – Water, Peas (33%), Onion, Gammon (6%), Potato, Vegetable Stock, Olive Oil, Garlic, Sea Salt, Black Pepper.
    I asked ‘Look what we found’ about the vegetable stock and they told me it contained the following: vegetable concentrates (carrot, onion, and leek), water, salt, spice.

    It’s just so tasty. Try it! I promise you won’t be disappointed. To find out more read a blog post dedicated just to this lovely soup, “Look what we found – gluten, dairy, celery and tomato free soup”

  4. Suma soups – More details on Suma soup ingredients to follow shortly… but they do a few that are tomato and celery free.
  5. Marigold celery free vegetable stock cubes

    Marigold celery free vegetable stock cubes

  6. Marigold celery free stock cubes – The only stock cubes I’ve found that don’t contain celery are Marigold Organic Swiss vegetable bouillon. These are great because they are gluten free (although they do contain maltodextrin), dairy free, soya free, yeast free and tomato free. Brilliant!

    Ingredients: sea salt, palm oil, vegetables 13.5% – (onion, carrot, parsley), maltodextrin, spices (mace, lovage, turmeric, bayleaf, pepper). These are really tasty but I often use two as they are not as strong as normal stock cubes.

  7. BEWARE: Some Marigold stock cubes DO contain celery. It’s just this green pack that don’t. I checked with the manufacturers and this is what they said: “There is no celery in the Green box yeast free gluten free Marigold Cubes. The other two cubes – Red box and Low Salt Purple box – do contain celery. Re cross contamination – our Swiss manufacturers clean their highly sophisticated machinery between production runs, so there is no cross contamination.”

    Free & Easy Gravy sauce mix

    Free&Easy vegetable gravy sauce mix

  8. Free&Easy celery free gravy sauce mix – Again, the only gravy granules sauce mix I’ve found that do not contain celery is Free & Easy Gluten Free vegetable gravy sauce mix. It’s also free from dairy, tomatoes, gluten, yeast…

    Ingredients: brown rice flour, cornstarch, hydrolysed vegetable protein, extract of roasted barley malt, powdered onion, sea salt and ground pepper.

    This product is guaranteed gluten free too.

Do you have a sensitivity to celery? I’ve had exercise induced anaphylaxis now on two occasions where I’m sure I didn’t consume dairy or nuts (my usual triggers) and now, having researched this food allergy I’m wondering whether on those occasions it could have been caused by celery. I can’t exactly confirm what time of year these reactions occurred but they could well have been during the birch pollen hay fever season. Since I found many references to it being linked to exercise induced anaphylaxis it’s a strong possibility as it’s hidden in so many things.

I’d love to hear from anyone else with this allergy, or anyone who has found any other brilliant celery free products.

Sponsored Advert

Although a celery allergy would seem unusual to many people, if you feel you’re experiencing the symptoms above it may be important to try and receive a diagnosis or treatment for allergy testing by visiting one of the local private hospitals in London.

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. http://www.whatallergy.com was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. Im quite allergic to celery, carrot and pumpkin (anaphalaxis reaction, itcht ears, mokd drops and throat tightens) and it makes meal times fruatrating at best as i enjoy my veggies. Ive been given an epi pen but havent had to use it as of yet (yay) but very difficult to know the ingredients used when it is say a vegetable soup or an unknown name on the label which makes me miss out on potentially tasty meals. As i said, very frustrating!

    • Hi Sarah, yes avoiding celery is tough but I can eat carrots. They are in so many meals too so I can see how hard that must be. Regarding your epipen, don’t worry about using it. You will know when you need to and take it from me, it doesn’t hurt at all. I was so scared the first time I used one but it is really not that bad. If in doubt, inject I think. Take care. 🙂

      • I have recently found out after many blood tests that i have Oral Birch Allergy and this summer after a terrible three months of raid heart beat and cardio issues it seems that celery is the main concern. I am a chef and generally good at checking ingredients as i cook for several nut allergy clients but this is really prooving tricky. I fell foul today after eating my beloved Marmite. Since this was the only food I had had in the day and it was two hrs later, I cehcked the jar with no real thought that this would be an issue. On some jars its noted and others not but on the online ingredient celery extract is there in bold! This has answerd some questions on days when I was cutting all foods and still suffering symptoms. Celery is in so many things even refines garlic powder. It is provving quite the challenge and one i m not winning well so far.

        • Vicki Baker says:

          I feel your pain! The UK commonly lists any form of celery on their labels, but even that is not assured. I have not had a soup in a restaurant for at least a decade – it is not worth the risk. For me, if the celery is very minimal I will suffer the consequences, but not excruciatingly so…
          I don’t think I’ve had a problem with garlic powder, but will now have to rethink mild reactions when I get lazy and don’t use fresh…
          On another note, I never use vegetable based products produced commercially – ever!

  2. I recently began manifesting a few sensitivity symptoms to celery sticks. The one not specifically in your description is an effect on my vocal cords. The feeling is the same I’ve had after breathing helium. The very slight sound change to my voice is not like “helium voice” but was noticeable to others.

    • Sounds like a mild allergic reaction to me, when I eat nuts of dairy my throat can completely close up and my tongue swell so that I can hardly speak at all. It hurts too, like a tight burning feeling. Celery seems to just wreck my skin and cause eczema. Have you noticed that cooked celery gives you any reactions? or is it just celery sticks?

      • Patricia says:

        Recently, I ate some turkey jerky, delicious stuff, and my face broke out from my forehead to my chin. It took some research to discover that ‘celery root powder’ was on the list of ingredients.

        I’ve kind of resorted to accepting the word ‘spice’ as an ingredient listed in a product as meaning ‘celery’ either root or leaf or extract (the worst culprit and worst reaction) or stalk.

        And if the product says ‘caramel color’ or even ‘artificial caramel color’ it’s a red flag for betacarotene or carrots.

        Unfortunately, in the United States manufacturers of food products are NOT required to post a warning on the products for containing celery and/or carrots. I wish they’d change that reality and soon. Hunt and peck during shopping is a drag. And not being able to dine out ever again… 🙁

  3. My son (12) reacts to ALL celery/carrot family items. He doesn’t have anaphylaxis but has major headache, seizure like and paranoid/hallucination episodes. Seems celery and paprika being the worst offenders. I am wondering if nightshades are involved too. We have not had allergy testing but don’t know if it would be beneficial at this point. Thank you for the article and everyone’s stories/responses.

    • Strange how certain foods can have this reaction for some people. Very frustrating but I’m glad you got to the bottom of it for your son – that reaction sounds horrible.

  4. “For this reason celery is noted on allergy labelling with as much importance as peanut.”

    Is this a joke or something? I’ve never once in my life seen celery listed among allergens. Companies are even allowed to conveniently hide it in “spices!” Don’t believe the crap that’s posted here. Read the WHOLE label.

    • Errr Dan… just in case you didn’t realise this is a UK blog. In the UK Celery is most definitely in the Top 14 allergens as it is across Europe. If you are based in the US then I think you may be far worse off as they don’t label it at all. I do take offense at your comment about ‘the crap that is posted here’, but I’ll let that go because I know how utterly rubbish having allergies is. I do agree about reading the whole label always as they are not always highlighted for easy spotting. Keep it polite in future please and you are more than welcome to comment.

    • Hi Dan,
      I DO believe the “crap” posted here and have to take into account that unfortunately the US doesn’t have the same rules for celery allergies as they do in the UK.

      I live in the US and I’m highly allergic to the parsley group which includes carrots, celery, dill, cilantro, coriander, and parsley (for starters).

      My partner shops for our food and reads and rereads every label. It’s a pain in the butt and it’s reality here in the US. I don’t eat anything which says *spice* or *beta-carotene* or *caramel color* sure signs that carrots and celery are lurking in my food.

      And still I discover the stray parsley group in my food. I now know by even more subtle signs than I noticed initially. My first sign is my rosacea goes haywire and I breakout with whiteheads on my nose and around my lips. Who ever knew my rosacea was caused by allergies to food? The next sign; I start to get a sty on my eyelid. Next my scalp breaks out in pimples. And last I get gastrointestinal problems.

      I wish the US would get labels for celery allergies. It would solve many of my skin issues.

  5. Thanks for this list. I have a mild allergy to celery and was looking for vegetable stock ideas. It causes me to have stomach cramps and I’ve always hated the taste so I try to avoid it as much as possible. I’ll have to check out that Merigold stock.

    • Hi,
      I’m allergic to celeriac. Might I also have a problem with fennel? So far so good….no reaction.

      • I’m allergic to celeriac but not to fennel (at least so far!) but I am now also allergic to cumin, sunflower seeds, wormwood (which is a weed/herb and flowers all over the place in mid-summer and gives me severe hay fever). I avoid celery as I assume I’d be allergic to that and don’t want to find out the hard way.

  6. Ed Sulesky says:

    Lovely. I never had a problem with celery or carrots as a child. Carrots are a no as celery, celery I usually ate in a setting with carrots at holidays so I though it was from just the carrots. Had a stalk recently because im trying to eat better in my 40s & the itching tongue & mouth started right away, thank you benedryl. Funny that cooked carrots I can tolerate, cooked celery I don’t like.

    I’m sticking to cucumbers & cheese burgers.

    • Hi Ed, thanks for the comment. This sounds like oral allergy syndrome because the cooking seems to prevent the allergic type reaction. Think courgettes, gherkins, aubergine, peppers. There’s loads of veggies out there. Good luck.

  7. George Clayton-Jones says:

    Hi, This is all very interesting. Since the beginning of the New Year I have been on a diet and just recently – during the last week or two – I have been eating a great deal of celery. A couple of days ago i had a major headache which I put down to the aftermath of a cold but today I have had another big headache after eating a just about a whole celery head. Now I am fairly convinced that the celery is the cause: i will let you know.

    • Maybe it goes to show, everything in moderation. You might be OK with smaller amounts but celery allergy is more common than you might think. Good luck with the detective work.

  8. I have a man extreme reaction to celery when ingested which if in raw form will swell the lips and close airways. The day before there must have been something in the lamb pie / gravy or mash from the vendor, despite then confirming they don’t have celery. My breathing is hyper, my stomach starts to push out over my diaphragm herniating under my rib cage. I found an emergency benedryl tablet in my wallet. Thanks to quick reactions from the nhs ambulance teams in London I was ok in the end. The asphyxia was causing me to collapse at the office and for my hands to go into seizure so couldn’t use a phone to summon help.

    Benedryl and an Epi pen should be on everyone’s daily carry if they know someone who has this level of reaction – please lookout for them and check they are themselves prepared to alert someone for help.

  9. Kevin Berry says:

    i cannot eat raw celery or even anything that has touched/been touched by it.
    my throat closes and simply will not allow me to swallow.
    however, once cooked the problem is removed and I enjoy braised celery and celery soup, leading me to believe it is enzymes that are destroyed/broken down in the cooking process, that are the problem

    • You’re lucky Kevin. I reached the point where celery in any form, raw or cooked bothers me. I’ve read that this type of allergy can start off as problems with raw and turn into all forms of celery.

      I’ve recently embarked on a prolonged study of my allergies and discovered that I’ve got many more than I originally believed. Here’s the list I’ve compiled over the summer of 2016:
      Xylitol – it can be made from birch trees and those are related to the parsley family.
      Blue and Yellow Food Dyes
      Annatto – causes worse reaction than parsley family.
      Parsley Family
      Balsamic Vinegar – aged in successive barrels of woods including chestnut which is related to latex.
      Port Wine, Sweet Wine, Sherries, Spanish Brandies – aged just like balsamic vinegar.
      BZK and Tricolsan
      Brown Rice Syrup
      Sensitivities to oranges, honeydew, and tomato – face breaks out; diarrhea

      • WOW that’s some list and some really unusual ones. How did you work out what you were reacting to?

        • Hi Ruth,
          It was a process of elimination coupled with research. If I reacted to a meal I ate, I took away an ingredient the next time I ate it. If I still reacted to the meal, I researched all of the ingredients to determine if there were any correlations to known allergens.

          One of those hunts for the truth showed the possible connection to Balsamic Vinegar. I love the stuff. A big red flag. If I’m allergic to something I crave it. After reading about Balsamic Vinegar and how it’s made I knew I had the culprit. It’s aged in successive barrels of wood. One of them is chestnut, and it’s related to latex. I’ve had the latex allergy since 2007. The aging process for the Balsamic Vinegar piqued my interest too for certain aged alcoholic beverages which have given me problems. I stopped drinking any alcohol ages ago (30+ years) because of my reaction to them. I’d swell up all over.

          Some of the other allergies or sensitives I listed I suspected three years ago or more. Those include blue and yellow food dyes, oranges, honeydew, tomato, and annatto. Of course the longer I ate them, the worse the symptoms got.

          I had a severe reaction to annatto around March/April 2016. Though at the time I wasn’t certain it was annatto. Again, process of elimination. I was not allergic to popcorn, the main ingredient in the food, so that left annatto because all the rest of the ingredients don’t bother me. My symptoms included high blood pressure, heart palpitations, severe gastrointestinal upset, and aching joints.

          I suspected blue and yellow dyes due to gastrointestinal reactions to colored candy which occurred when I ate some Skittles. That was the last time I ate Skittles. I’m like that with something I’m allergic to. I quit eating it because I dislike the reaction to it. I found many more products with blue and/or yellow food dye in them and removed them from my diet. These food dyes cause a similar reaction as the annatto.

          I found blue food dye in my toothpaste and dental floss. Every time I used them my nose and lips itched. During that research I discovered that every toothpaste had a suspect allergen except ones with another food dye, titanium dioxide, whitener. I hope I don’t have a reaction to that. From that experience, I started washing my lips and area around them after using any type of toothpaste. I still do that.

          I made an error above. It’s not brown rice syrup. I’m allergic to agave syrup. It causes gastrointestinal upset and achy joints similar to the food dyes. I’ve read that many people have reactions to agave syrup.

          Food dyes are in the medicine I take daily. I’m in the process of getting my insurance company to approve of another one without any food dyes.

          I’ve always had problems with honeydew giving me a sore throat. I don’t eat much of it because of that.

          Orange juice is problematic however oranges are not. Orange juice is concentrated. I think that may be the reason.

          Tomatoes are a borderline sensitivity. If I eat too much tomato sauce, too often then it’s a problem. My face breaks out and my one eyelid gets a stye.

          And xylitol is suspect because it’s made from birch trees. Though it can be made from corn. Manufacturers who use xylitol switch back and forth between birch trees and corn. So I’ve had to stop eating and using anything with xylitol in it. It’s the newest thing in toothpaste and mouthwash.

          In addition, I found a lot of help conversing with fellow allergy sufferers on a forum called “my food allergy team.”

    • Celery does not break down when cooked infact its one vegetable that actually multiplies the bad bit when cooked, thus making it extremely dangerous for those who ingest it without knowing in conidements like marmite, magi seasoning (celery is only used in some countries for tis product and not in others for the same labeled product) and refined garlic powders……beware.

  10. I recently discovered that the very medicine I was using for my recent itchiness has yellow dye in it. Lovely. It’s Chlor-Trimeton. I can’t believe Chlor-Trimeton doesn’t make a dye-free version.

    So what would happen is I’d take the allergy relief medicine and get itch free. Then four hours later when it wore off, I’d be even itchier. I stopped taking it all together.

    Benadryl just came out with a dye-free version. Thank goodness. The only downside is that it comes in gel caps. I can’t divide the dose like I like to do.

    My insurance company approved the change to a dye-free medicine. In the meantime before it arrives, I’ll itch and itch and itch. UGH! I can’t take the Benadryl everyday because it makes me drowsy. Darn. That’s what I liked about Chlor-Trimeton.

  11. I’ve had anaphylactic shock once and anaphylaxis once. In both instances it was exercised induced. The first time I had eaten peanuts, which I knew I had a mild and inconsistent reaction to. So I never guessed that the real culprit was celery or at least things related to celery. On the first occasion it was Indian food with cumin, coriander, and cilantro in it. And in the second case I had potato salad with celery and dill in it. It doesn’t seem to bother me too much if I don’t exercise afterward (just mild swelling of the mouth/lips or a few hives).

    • I’m allergic to celeriac, sunflower seeds (not oil), camomile, cumin and get hay fever when wormwood flowers in the summer. I also have an exercise-induced allergy which is potentially the most dangerous. It always involves a visit to A&E. Unfortunately despite the tests they don’t know what causes it. An enzyme in wheat was suspected but the tests ruled it out. I’m not convinced as I had eaten wheat earlier in the day in some form or other every time. It also always happened in the evening so now I usually take an antihistamine if I exercise then and am very very careful what I eat at lunch.

  12. I was reading about honey allergy that someone I know has. I’d not heard of it before, so I was researching it. I came across the fact that people with honey allergies often have an allergy to celery. “Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to celery…” http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/honey/safety/hrb-20059618

    Do you know what the correlation/connection is?

    • Well it’s not true for me with my celery allergy. I’m not allergic to honey.

      I wonder if it’s the mold that can sometimes form in honey. I’m allergic to mold.

      I now have added black pepper, strawberries, and tomatoes to my allergies. They are all on the OAS list I found online. Black pepper is related to Mugwort and that in turn is related to all sorts of vegetables and spices and one herb, chamomile.

      I suspect onion may be an issue too. It’s on the Mugwort list as well as bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, garlic, and parsley. I’ve got issues already with everything but broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and garlic.

      And I have problems with artificial flavor in anything but especially if in chocolate. It makes me quite ill.

      I’ve sworn off all food dyes as I just had a reaction to Red #40. I had a small amount and it took 12 hours for it to get to me and cause a reaction.

    • Another possible correlation could be the fact that different pollens are taken up when bees do their business. Tree pollens, especially birch, could be the culprit, because being allergic to birch could make one have cross allergies to parsley, celery, and carrot among many other foods most of which are on the parsley family list.

  13. Richard Morris says:

    I have contact allergies for Balsam Peru, Cinnamal and Geraniol.
    Allergy to Grass and Silver Birch pollen.
    Cross allergies for Celery, Carrots, Nuts, most fruits especially citrus.
    All of these will bring out eczema. Celery and candid peel are the real nasty ones.
    I know within 15 minutes. They cause my throat to close, dizziness and incoherent speech.
    My Consultant at the Hospital has been brilliant. My GP is a fool who ignores the consultant and tells me I’ll grow out of it. I have taken to wearing a Medic Alert bracelet in case I do have an anaphylactic shock.

  14. Vicki Baker says:

    If you are allergic to celery or cross react to it, you should consider eliminating everything from the “apiaceae” family of plants…

    • Apiaceae or the parsley family…got it figured out all ready. Which is also called the carrot family. Confusing. If I just cover birch tree pollen and the OAS which goes with that, which is basically the parsley family, it covers everything I’m allergic to or could possibly be allergic to at some point in time.


  1. […] to What Allergy “for people with celery allergy, exposure can cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock” and […]

  2. […] of Manchester’s InformAll’s Celery/Celeriac Allergy Page What Allergy?’s What is Celery Allergy? Foods Matter’s Oral Allergy […]

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