Hesrie van Heerden, FACTS, awarded the Allergen Bureau FAMS2019 travel grant for postgraduate or early career researchers

The Allergen Bureau was pleased to award the 2019 Allergen Bureau travel grant for postgraduate or early career researchers to Hesrie van Heerden, Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services (FACTS), South Africa. Ms van Heerden’s poster abstract ‘Emerging allergen related regulatory implications of introducing Cannabis sativa into the Food and Beverage industry’ was judged as best meeting the criteria of addressing globally consistent, science-based, food allergen risk assessment and labelling. The award was presented to Hesrie at the FAMS2019 conference dinner on 15 May 2019.

The $1,500 award is to be used for intra- or inter-national travel and associated costs to present at FAMS2019. In receiving this award, Hesrie noted that she would not have been able to attend FAMS2019 without the financial support provided through the award, further stating “I am extremely thrilled to have be chosen for the grant and I am beyond excited to attend the conference! This award is such an honour and I highly appreciate the opportunity, thank you to everyone involved! This has truly made my day and year.”

Hesrie’s poster abstract was judged as the Allergen Bureau travel grant winner because she highlighted an emerging global challenge with this controversial product. Cannabis is currently the world’s most widely used recreational drug, with the inclusion of cannabis products in food predicted to be a major global food industry trend.The science-based study investigating cannabis cross-reactivity indicated a link with lipid transfer proteins and thaumatin-like-protein in a variety of foods (e.g. hazelnut). Other research has shown chestnuts and almonds as other possible cross-reactive tree nuts and, therefore, cross reactivity of cannabis with tree nut proteins was identified as an issue of primary concern. It is proposed that the allergenic potential of cannabis will become an increasing concern for the global food and beverage industry in the future. Additional studies covering different aspects of the allergen impact of cannabis are proposed to further develop our knowledge, to define and eliminate this gap in food legislation, and to improve risk assessment and labelling.

The selection panel of Caroline Gray (FAMS2019 Chair, DuPont and Allergen Bureau), Debbie Hawkes (Hawkins Watts and Allergen Bureau), and Jasmine Lacis-Lee (DTS Food Assurance and Allergen Bureau) congratulated all applicants on their abstracts and posters.

Emerging allergen related regulatory implications of introducing Cannabis sativa into the Food and Beverage industry

Hesrie van Heerden, Comaine van Zijl, Karim Dhanani

Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa