Further efforts to define thresholds for common food allergens

For the food industry, knowledge of the minimum dose that can cause allergic reactions in sensitised individuals would provide an evidence base from which to derive precautionary allergen labelling strategies. Many studies in recent years have focused on the determination of these threshold doses for the most common allergens. In the latest of these studies, researchers sought to establish threshold dose distributions for peanut, hazelnut, celery, fish and shrimp.

Patients with food allergy were drawn from the EuroPrevall birth cohort, community surveys, and outpatient clinic studies, and invited to undergo a food challenge. Low-dose, double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges were undertaken with commercially available food ingredients (peanut, hazelnut, celery, fish and shrimp) blinded into common matrices.

Hazelnut, peanut, and celery produced similar dose distributions, with estimated doses eliciting reactions in 10 per cent of the allergic population (ED10), ranging from 1.6 to 10.1 mg (1/1000 of a gram) of the relevant protein. ED10 values for fish were 27.3 mg of protein, while cooked shrimp had an ED10 value of 2.5 g of protein.

The findings from this single study will contribute to the body of knowledge about eliciting doses of food allergens. The ultimate goal is to define the reference doses and action levels for all common allergens in foods below which only the most sensitive subjects might react.

Reference: Ballmer-Weber et al. 2015 Journal of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2014.10.047