Only seldom have food additives been shown to cause true allergic (immunological) reactions. Adverse effects due to various pharmacological or other mechanisms are much more common. The individual tolerance may be decreased for one reason or another, and may fluctuate from time to time. Many patients suffering from food additive reactions have atopic constitutions and such clinical symptoms as flexural dermatitis, rhinitis and asthma. The most important skin symptoms caused by food additives are urticaria, angioneurotic edema, and contact urticaria. Azo dyes, benzoic acid and several other common food additives may aggravate or, more rarely, even cause urticaria. Spices are one of the most common causes of immunological contact urticaria. Non-immunological contact urticaria is produced by numerous spices, benzoic acid, sorbic acid, cinnamic acid, and many essential oils. Asthma and rhinitis are the main hypersensitivity symptoms in the respiratory tract, and azo dyes, benzoic acid, and sulfitic food additives are the most common causative agents. Systemic and respiratory reactions to food colorants and benzoates have been claimed to occur more frequently in acetylsalicylic acid- (ASA-)sensitive patients than in non-reactors. Hypersensitivity reactions in organs other than the skin and respiratory tract are rare or poorly documented. Psychological factors play an essential role in both food and food additive reactions.