For people with food allergies, its important to know what ingredients are in a particular meal. Making informed decisions about what you are eating can be a challenge for anyone, especially with the language barrier.
Many Japanese packaging marks common allergens that may be contained in the product, usually listed near the ingredient list. Keep an eye out for both “allergenic ingredients used in this product (本製品に含まれるアレルギー物質)” and “allergenic ingredients used in the same facility (本品製造工場では、＿＿を含む製品を生産しています)” since they may be listed separately.
Example of what the label could look like:
In Japan, it is mandatory for companies to list eggs, milk, wheat, buckwheat, peanuts, shrimp and crab on their labels if they are included or could have traces of in the product (marked by red). It is also recommended that companies list 20 more food items on their packaging.
List of allergens mandatory (red) and recommended to be labled on packagings:
In Japan, you can buy over-the-counter antihistamines （抗アレルギー剤 or 抗ヒスタミン剤）for mild allergies, and you can always go talk to a doctor to get something prescribed, though that does not necessarily mean more potency. If you need an epipen, you can buy them in Japan but only from a specialized doctor, and it can partly be covered by insurance.
Also, check out Surviving Japan’s
Ultimate Guide to Reading Food Labels in Japan!