Submitted to: Inform
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: May 2, 2007
Publication Date: June 27, 2007
Citation: Maleki, S.J. 2007. Allergenicity of processed food. Inform. 18:195-197.
Food allergies have become a major public health issue in many countries. In the U.S. it is estimated that approximately 150 individuals die each year from accidental ingestion of an allergic food. As a result, the federal government recently passed the food allergen labeling law which went into effect at the beginning of 2006. This federal law will require labeling to inform consumers of potential allergens in foods. The law covers the eight foods (egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat) that account for 90% of food allergies in the U.S. The overwhelming majority of food allergies are classified as type I or immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated reactions, in which the IgE antibody plays a major role in the cascade of immunological events following ingestion of an allergenic food. Hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to milk and egg are often outgrown at an early age, whereas, reactions to peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish tend to last a lifetime. Celiac disease, which is not IgE mediated, but never-the-less results in an allergic reaction, is also life long and requires that strict avoidance of gluten-containing grains. There is no definitive treatment for food allergies other than to avoid the offending foods, especially in cases where the reaction is quite severe.