Aug 2013 News Round Up

heated allergens

In our August 2013 we bring you updates about the use of heated food allergens as a potential oral immunotherapy vehicle, plus news about the global growth of VITAL™ through to new research which provides evidence that the cereal grain sorghum lacks gliadin-like peptides and is therefore a safe food for people with coeliac disease.

Heat allergens may help induce food allergy tolerance in children

Researchers based in Adelaide, Australia have published a review of the current literature regarding the use of heated food allergens as potential oral immunotherapy vehicles for children with cow’s milk and egg allergy. Free access to the full review is available here.

Until recently, children with food allergy were advised to avoid all dietary exposure to the allergen to which they were sensitive, in the thought that consumption would exacerbate their allergy. However, now published research indicates that around 70% of children with egg or cow’s milk allergy can tolerate certain baked foods containing the respective allergen without apparent reaction. Based on this information, dietary management strategies are beginning to move away from strict avoidance to allow the inclusion of the baked protein in the diet if it has been shown to be tolerated by the individual. Where this is possible, it results in less dietary restriction and an improved quality of life for the child with food allergies and their carers.

The mechanisms involved in the development of allergy and subsequent allergy tolerance are not yet understood, but given the immense amount of research being conducted in this field knowledge is quickly evolving. It is now known that development of oral tolerance is dependent on a number of early events, including allergen exposure (age, dose and timing), gut colonisation and the influence of maternal milk.

Areas for future research include unravelling the underlying mechanisms in the development of tolerance to a food. This will aid in the understanding and identification of the optimal route and protocols for dosing during the desensitization phase and also help to identify markers showing tolerance development as opposed to desensitization.

Reference: Netting et al. 2013. Nutrients. Vol. 5(6). Pp. 2028-46. Doi: 10.3390/nu5062028.

The Global Spread of  VITAL™

As international acceptance in the Allergen Bureau Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL™) system continues to grow, we have been pleased to be able to endorse VITAL™ Training Providers in several countries and regions outside of Australia and New Zealand. We have also continued to grow the number of VITAL™ Training Providers operating in Australia and New Zealand and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

As VITAL is delivered more widely, the Allergen Bureau will work with our endorsed Training Providers to learn from their experiences in delivery of VITAL™ and to improve the global applicability of the VITAL training package.

The Allergen Bureau welcomes expressions of interest from appropriately qualified training organisations with experience in food manufacturing industry.

The following Training Providers are endorsed by the Allergen Bureau to provide VITAL™ training:

The Netherlands & Belgium
Allergenen Consultancy
South Africa
Food and Allergen Consulting and Testing Services (FACTS)
Food Information and Service Europe
ifp Institut für Produktqualität
Aquatic AS
Australia & New Zealand
Advancing Food Safety (SAI Global)
BSI incorporating NCSI
Burwater Pacific
Global Food Safety Training
SIS Training and Consulting
Symbio Alliance
The AgriChain Centre

Contact details can be accessed from the Allergen Bureau website

You can be an Allergen Bureau member. JOIN NOW!

The Allergen Bureau recently launched the introduction of an Individual Membership option. For an annual subscription of just $220^, individuals joining the Allergen Bureau can now enjoy some of the benefits of our Full and Associate member companies, including:

• 25% discount on Allergen Bureau Conferences and Workshops
• 10% discount on Allergen Bureau endorsed VITAL™ training
• Priority access to the Allergen Bureau phone and email information service

Individual Membership of the Allergen Bureau is open to:
• Individuals within NGO’s, Government Departments, and Trade Associations
• Sole operators of Consultancies
• Individuals in SME’s (at Allergen Bureau Management discretion)

Why wait – Join the Allergen Bureau NOW!

^ Associate Member D (Individual) investment is an annual subscription fee renewable on 1 April; Membership prices include 10% GST for Australian entities

Sorghum proven safe for coeliacs

Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry earlier this year described new biochemical evidence that the cereal grain sorghum lacks gliadin-like peptides and is therefore a safe food for people with coeliac disease.

Wheat, rye and barley seeds all contain gliadin-like peptides that are harmful to people with coeliac disease. While maize and rice are distant relatives of wheat, they have previously been proven to be safe for consumption by coeliacs. Sorghum is another distant relative of wheat. However, this research is thought to be the first molecular evidence demonstrating the absence of the harmful gliadin-like peptides.

Sorghum has traditionally been used in Western countries as animal feed, but in Africa and India it has long been a food for people due to its high nutritional value. Sorghum hybrids known as ‘food grade’ sorghum have recently been produced in the USA.

For those with coeliac disease, who face life-long dietary restriction as the only option for disease management, additional cereal products that are safe to eat bring greater choice and increased nutritional value to their diet. For food manufacturers targeting the growing market of consumers choosing gluten free foods, sorghum may open interesting new avenues for product development.

Reference: Pontieri et al. 2013. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Vol. 61(10). Pp 2565–2571. Doi: 10.1021/jf304882k

Traditional Chinese herbal remedies to treat food allergy

Chinese herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years in China and other Asian countries to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases. Research programs are underway to investigate the anti-allergic effects of certain promising herbal formulas.

A program being conducted at Shen Zhen University in China is focussing on a modified Chinese herbal formula, Formula-3 which has been shown to affect mast cell degranulation in both animal and cell models. Results of this team’s most recent research indicate that the formula mitigates the allergic response through modulating calcium mobilization which in turn stabilizes the mast cells. Developing an understanding of the mechanism of action is an important step towards using this formula to treat food allergy in humans.

Another program of research into traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of food allergy is being conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York. Food allergy herbal formula-1 (FAHF-1) was initially based on the herbal therapy, Wu Mei Wan, which has been used traditionally to treat gastroenteritis and asthma. FAHF-1 was made up of 11 herbal substances and studies showed it could eliminate symptoms of anaphylaxis in mouse models of peanut allergy. In an attempt to simplify the formula and increase its safety, researchers later modified FAHF-1 by removing two of the herbs which were potentially toxic if processed improperly. The resultant nine-herb formulation was termed FAHF-2 and its efficacy and safety were studied in the same murine model of peanut anaphylaxis. Results showed the same degree of protection from anaphylaxis upon peanut challenge.

A report on recent findings from the on-going research into FAHF-2 show the formula is well tolerated and effective for the treatment of food allergies in murine models of peanut and multiple food allergies. Importantly, these effects appear to persist after the discontinuation of treatment. Early clinical trials have demonstrated the safety and tolerability of this formula in people with food allergies and a Phase II clinical trial is currently underway to evaluate the efficacy of FAHF-2 in protecting individuals from allergen-induced allergic reactions during oral food challenges.

Reference 1: Yang et al. 2013. International Immunopharmacology. pii: S1567-5769(13)00257-9. Doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2013.06.016.

Reference 2: Wang J. 2013. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Vol.13(4). Pp 386-91. Doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e3283615bc4.

Additional source: Lieberman & Wang 2012. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Vol.12(3) Pp. 293-301.

Coeliac disease – how prevalent is it around the world?

Coeliac disease was originally thought to be largely confined to Northern Europe and Australasia but was uncommon in North America and the Middle East. It is now recognised as being equally common in all these countries but still thought to be rare in the Orient and Sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers in London have conducted a systematic review to assess geographical differences and time trends in the frequency of coeliac disease.

In late 2012, the team conducted Medline and Embase searches dating back respectively to 1946 and 1980. Their findings show both the prevalence and incidence of clinically and serologically diagnosed coeliac disease has increased with significant geographical differences.

The review authors used reports of coeliac disease-associated HLA DQ antigens as markers for potential predisposition to coeliac disease. DQ2 occurs in 5-10% of Chinese and sub-Saharan Africans, compared to 5-20% in Western Europe. DQ8 occurs in 5-10% of English, Tunisians and Iranians, but in <5% of Eastern Europeans, Americans and Asians.

Although few cases of diagnosed coeliac disease in the Orient and Sub-Saharan Africa have been reported to date, the significant prevalence of HLA DQ2 in that region, coupled with wheat consumption of the same order as that in Western Europe, suggest that coeliac disease may become more common in these countries in the future.

Reference Kang et al. 2013. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Vol. 38(3) pp. 226-45. Doi: 10.1111/apt.1237