Both immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated food allergy and food intolerance can lead to many changes in personal behaviour and health care resource use which have important economic consequences. These costs will impact directly, indirectly and intangibly on both individuals and society in general. It is important to measure the cost of illness (COI) of food allergy as a first step in developing and evaluating measures to reduce and control the burden of illness. This paper outlines a framework for assessing COI of food allergy from different viewpoints. It offers a structure for identifying the different cost impacts on allergic and nonallergic consumers, food producers and society as a whole, and for scoping, measurement and valuation of relevant costs. Within this structure, the existing literature is reviewed. This review illustrates the lack of information and clear methodology for assessing costs of food allergy. The paper concludes that there is a need for a more structured research programme to generate data essential for future evaluations of procedures and technologies for the diagnosis, treatment and management of food allergy.