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episodes have occurred including several in the confectionery industry. In Europe, a consumer inadvertently ingested a chocolate product containing unlabeled hazelnuts. Although only 6 mg of hazelnut was estimated to have been ingested, the consumer experienced a serious asthmatic reaction (11). More serious by far, several years ago in Canada, a consumer died after the ingestion of a chocolate-coated wafer contaminated with undeclared peanut, although the level of peanut in the contaminated product remains uncertain. The peanut residues in this product apparently arose from the use of shared production lines and inadequate flushing between peanut-containing and peanut-free products.

Immunoassays currently in various stages of development will allow the detection of residues of specific allergenic foods in other products (38). There are presently such immunoassays available for the detection of peanut, milk, egg and almond residues in other foods. The sensitivity of these immunoassays approaches 1 p.p.m. Unfortunately, satisfactory analytical methods for the detection of residues of other commonly allergenic foods do not yet exist. The best approach to the assessment of the adequacy of cleaning procedures is to test samples of the first product made on the shared equipment after flushing or clean-up following the processing of products containing major allergenic foods such as peanuts.

With respect to ingredients, any ingredient derived from an allergenic food that contains protein could elicit allergic responses. Refined oils do not contain protein residues and are probably safe (3941), although some countries have chosen to require source labeling of oils. The source labeling of hydrolyzed proteins is quite important. Even extensively hydrolyzed proteins have triggered allergic reactions in exquisitely sensitive individuals (42, 43). In the USA, the term hydrolyzed vegetable protein is no longer allowed; the source of the protein must be declared. Flavoring ingredients, both natural and artificial, can occasionally contain small amounts of allergenic proteins (44). In such situations, the allergenic source of the protein in the flavoring should somehow be declared on the ingredient statement. While flavor suppliers are understandably reluctant to release their formulations, they will often divulge if the formulation contains proteins from any of the most common allergenic foods. Lecithin is obtained from soybeans or eggs, both of which are commonly allergenic foods. Lecithin may contain trace residues of protein, but many soybean- and egg-allergic individuals do not avoid lecithin. However, the allergenicity of lecithin has not been tested. When lecithin is directly added to food products as part of the formulation, the source of the lecithin should be included on the label in the view of the authors.

Food allergies affect only a small percentage of consumers. However, some of these consumers can experience life-threatening reactions to the inadvertent

Conclusion

Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Peanuts can leave you breathless. Cat dander can lead to itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing. And most of us have suffered through those seasonal allergies with horrible pollen counts. Learn more...

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