I am evaluating a patient with perioral redness and itching, followed by hives the next day, which has occurred several times after eating Doritos® corn chips, and once after eating beef jerky. I do not find any ingredient present in both foods, and he is not intolerant of any other specific food.

I have had several other patients who have reported oral itching after Doritos.

Other than just avoiding the offending products, what would you advise such a patient? What is/are the most likely causes of allergy to Doritos?


Thank you for your inquiry.

Unfortunately, I am not going to be of much help. I could find nothing in the literature (other than lay message websites) mentioning allergy to Doritos corn chips, and I have never had a complaint from a patient about a reaction to corn chips. There are a number of different varieties of corn chips with different ingredients. However, Doritos corn chips in their original formula contain only the following: corn, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), and salt (no preservatives). As noted, Doritos corn chips contain no preservatives. Therefore, if your patient is eating corn and the oils mentioned above, I cannot envision a likely culprit contained in the chips. I am wondering if you have actually performed an oral challenge to see if the patient’s observations of cause and effect are correct. As you know, quite often even though patients feel certain of the relationship of an ingestant and a reaction, their conclusions are not always correct.

As far as the beef jerky is concerned, as you know, there are a number of different varieties of beef jerky, and you did not mention the specific ingredients of the brand and flavor involved, so I have little upon which to draw conclusions.

In summary, I am not aware of nor could I find in the literature, any report of an allergic reaction to Doritos corn chips. And after looking at the ingredients of their original formula, I find it possible that the patient’s attribution of cause and effect may be incorrect. The only suggestion therefore that I have would be to consider a food challenge if you wish to pursue this further and the patient is willing.

Thank you again for your inquiry and we hope this response is helpful to you.

Phil Lieberman, M.D.

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