Nutrition Action Healthletter
Allergy Studies and Links: More Information About the Studies Described in the Article Food Allergies
The number of anaphylactic reactions to food:

“From 1983 to 1987, investigators found an anaphylaxis occurrence rate of 30 per 100,000 person-years in a population-based study of Olmstead County, Minn. In their emergency department, allergic reactions to food were the leading identifiable cause of anaphylactic reactions. Extrapolating from these data would predict that there are about 29,000 anaphylactic episodes due to food allergy in the United States each year, resulting in about 150 deaths.”

Source: Bock SA, Munoz-Furlong A, Sampson HA: Fatalities due to anaphylactic reactions to foods.

Characteristics of fatal anaphylactic reactions

Bock SA, Munoz-Furlong A, Sampson HA: Fatalities due to anaphylactic reactions to foods.

Survey of peanut allergies in the U.S.

Sicherer SH, Munoz-Furlong A, Burks AW, Sampson HA: Prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy in the US determined by a random digit dial telephone survey.

Studies showing lactose intolerant patients can tolerate dairy products

(a) Suarez FL, Adshead J, Furne JK, Levitt MD: Lactose maldigestion is not an impediment to the intake of 1500 mg calcium daily as dairy products.

(b) Suarez FL, Savaiano D, Arbisi P, Levitt MD: Tolerance to the daily ingestion of two cups of milk by individuals claiming lactose intolerance. Sulfites from the Food & Drug Administration:

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

Monosodium glutamate

Geha RS, Beiser A, Ren C, Patterson R, Greenberger PA, Grammer LC, Ditto AM, Harris KE, Shaughnessy MA, Yarnold PR, Corren J, Saxon A: Multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multiple-challenge evaluation of reported reactions to monosodium glutamate.

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

Tartrazine (Yellow No. 5)

Food colors and behavior problems in children

A report, an article, scientists’ letters to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a press release from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Sensitivity to peanuts

Hourihane JO’B, Kilburn SA, Nordlee JA, Hefle SL, Taylor SL, Warner JO: An evaluation of the sensitivity of subjects with peanut allergy to very low doses of peanut protein: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge study.

FDA study of food processing plants

“Food Allergen Partnership 1999-2000 Minnesota & Wisconsin Summary of Findings,” Minneapolis District Office. (obtained from FDA)

   Because of a sharp increase in the number of foods recalled during the 1990s for containing allergens that weren’t listed on the labels, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin conducted special inspections of 85 typical small, medium, and large ice cream, bakery, and candy manufacturers in those two states between September 1999 and March 2000.

     Only 45 of the 85 firms had procedures to verify that their finished products’ labels matched the ingredients they were actually using. Of the other 40, later testing showed that 24 were producing foods with undeclared allergens in them.

     Twenty-five percent of the 85 firms were using raw ingredients such as nuts or artificial colors that they were not declared on the labels.

     Thirty-seven of the 85 firms used “rework,” ie, were recycling ingredients from one batch of food to another. Of these 37 companies, later testing showed that 18 were producing foods with undeclared allergens in them.

     Only 41 of the 85 firms employed procedures to control the cross-contamination of foods with allergens. Just three used analytical testing as a method to verify that their cleaning and sanitation measures were effective. In many establishments, common utensils were used in the production of allergen and non-allergen containing foods, and production scheduling was not designed to prevent one batch of allergen-containing food from contaminating a subsequent batch of a different food.

     Based on what they found, the FDA and state inspectors collected 73 samples of foods they thought might contain peanut allergens, but which did not list peanuts on the labels as a possible ingredient, and 45 samples of foods they thought might contain egg allergens, but which did not list eggs on the labels as a possible ingredient.

     Eighteen of the 73 products (25%) tested positive for peanut allergens.These included one ice cream, one donut, eight cookies, two cookie doughs, and six candy products. Five of the 45 products (11%) tested positive for egg allergens. These included three ice cream, one donut, and one cookie products.

     These 23 products with undeclared allergens in them were produced by 21 of the 85 (25%) firms inspected, nine in Minnesota and 12 in Wisconsin.

Allergic reaction to sorbet

Laoprasert N, Wallen ND, Jones RT, Hefle SL, Taylor SL, Yunginger JW: Anaphylaxis in a milk-allergic child following ingestion of lemon sorbet containing trace quantities of milk.

U.S. recalls of products

FDA 1996 notice to manufacturers on allergens in natural flavors

State Attorneys General petition to FDA full text of petition

Press release of NY State Attorney General from May 26, 2000

StarLink corn

Genetically Engineered Food Alert, an anti-biotechnology activist group, announces on September 18, 2000, that it has found that Taco Bell brand of taco shells contain a form of genetically engineered corn not approved for direct human consumption.

Final report of EPA Advisory Panel concluding that there is a "medium likelihood" that StarLink corn contains an allergen (December 1, 2000). (Requires Acrobat Reader)

Federal Register Notice of Receipt of Request by Aventis CropScience USA for Cancellation of Registration of StarLink Corn (January 18, 2001) EPA’s Starlink Corn News Archive

Statements posted to

More information about food allergies:

From the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

From the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

From the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

From the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

From the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology

From the American Academy of Pediatrics

From the Mayo Clinics

From the International Food Information Council (a food industry-sponsored educational organization)

Centers for Peanut Allergy Awareness (site recruits participants for a major study of a peanut allergy vaccine)

Food Allergy Food Recalls

Information about Anaphylactic Reactions to Food Support groups Return to Food Allergies
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