Jan 2014 News Round Up

one in ten children allergies

Our January Allergen Bureau eNews brings you the latest news and information, from new research through to the latest edition of the VITAL® calculator.

One in ten children have clinically-proven food allergy

Research led by Professor Sue Prescott at the School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia – based on a survey across 89 countries – found that in some developed economies as many as 1 in 10 preschool children now have challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy.

Many of the regions surveyed do not hold quality data and the researchers highlight a need to obtain more accurate information about food allergy prevalence and impact, even in developed countries. Inequities in paediatric allergy services, availability of adrenaline auto-injectors and standardised National Anaphylaxis Action plans across multiple countries are also issues that need to be addressed given the rising burden of food allergy.

This survey was performed in 2012 to collect information on existing data on the global patterns and prevalence of food allergy. All the national member societies of the World Allergy Organization and some of their neighbouring countries were included in the survey. More than half of the countries surveyed (52/89) did not have any data on food allergy prevalence. In particular, Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East lack any kind of food allergy prevalence data. Only 10% (9/89) of countries had accurate food allergy prevalence data, based on oral food challenges. The remaining countries had data largely based on parent-reporting of a food allergy diagnosis or symptoms, which is recognised to overestimate the prevalence of food allergy.

In large and rapidly emerging societies of Asia, such as China, where there are documented increases in food allergy, the prevalence of oral food challenge-proven food allergy is now around 7% in pre-schoolers, which is comparable to the reported prevalence in European regions.

The full paper, available as an open access publication, thoroughly documents the findings of the survey by region, including differences in prevalence, the most common food allergens, and infant feeding patterns.

Reference: Prescott et al. 2013. World Allergy Organisation Journal. Vol 6(1):p21. doi: 10.1186/1939-4551-6-21. The article is freely available online at: http://www.waojournal.org/content/6/1/21

The new version of the VITAL® Calculator

The new version of the VITAL® Calculator, v2.1.20, replaces v2.1.18. The new version is available for download from the Allergen Bureau website www.allergenbureau.net/vital/vital-downloads

The new version of the VITAL Calculator has improved compatibility with Microsoft Excel 2010 and other ‘bug’ fixes. There is also some minor re-wording of instructions for further clarification.

The Allergen Bureau recommends old versions of the calculator are replaced with v2.1.20 where a version older than 2.1.18 is being used or if there are compatibility issues resulting in error messages which prevent the calculator from completing the final reports. Version 2.1.20 should be used for all new calculations.

If you are using v2.1.18 and are not experiencing any errors, it may not be necessary to convert these calculations to the new version, as both versions are based on the same science and will produce the same result.

The Allergen Bureau relies on feedback from users if any errors or other issues are found.
Please email your feedback or questions about the VITAL Calculator to info@allergenbureau.net

Product Information Form (PIF) Training Workshop

Mastering the PIF (AFGC Product Information Form)
AFGC has teamed up with the AIFST (Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology) to present a half day workshop on the PIF.

This half day interactive workshop focuses on mastering the use of the AFGC Product Information Form.

If you want to save time spent completing the form and learn how to use it more efficiently then attendance at this workshop is a must. The session will cover:

  • Your responsibilities as a supplier or recipient of the PIF
  • Tips and tricks that simplify use
  • Navigating with ease and understanding the inbuilt relationships
  • Common pitfalls
  • How to effectively complete the form
  • Techniques for reviewing and validating the content to improve the quality and accuracy of the information supplied
  • Making the most of the PIF User Guide.

Whether you are a new or experienced user, a supplier, customer or manufacturer, if you use the Food Industry Product Information Form then this interactive session will address common user concerns, improve your overall understanding of the form, and enable you to improve efficiencies by generating quality documents first time round.

Note: Use of the data migration tool is not covered within this workshop.

Dates: Sydney – Tuesday March 4th, 2014
Melbourne – Thursday March 6th, 2014
Duration: half day session from 1 – 4.30pm with a light lunch provided prior to the session.
Venues: to be advised
Presenter: Patricia Verhoeven (Consultant)
Cost: AFGC Member companies and AIFST Members – $250 (+GST), Non AFGC or AIFST members – $330 (+GST)

Please register your interest NO LATER THAN Friday February 7th, 2014 with AFGC – PIF@afgc.org.au. Registration details will be sent out closer to the date.

Australian team develops new test for diagnosing coeliac disease

A team of world-renown coeliac disease researchers based at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) are developing a new blood test that could dramatically simplify the diagnosis of coeliac disease and thereby greatly improve treatment and prognosis.

Led by Dr Jason Tye-Din, Head of Coeliac Research at WEHI and a gastroenterologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital, the team is working to develop a test that will eliminate the need for people to eat gluten for several weeks and then have tissue samples taken from their intestines before a diagnosis can be made. Rather, as shown in a pilot study on 48 people, the test is accurate after only three days of gluten consumption. Results are also expected to be available for patients within 24 hours of the test. Currently, people who would rather avoid gluten are required to consume gluten for several weeks, then undergo a biopsy in order to determine whether or not they suffer from the condition.

The blood test measures the body’s abnormal T-cell response to gluten. A US biotechnology company was involved with trialling the blood test on 48 people. The new test will be in development for several more years before it becomes available for general use.

The study is supported by Coeliac Australia, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Victorian government.

Reference: Ontiveros et al. 2014. Clinical & Experimental Immunology. Vol 175(2) Pp 305–315.
DOI: 10.1111/cei.12232

Foundation to support allergy research launched in Australia

Towards the end of last year, the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA) was launched by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), which is the peak professional body for clinical immunology and allergy in Australia and New Zealand.

AIFA is dedicated to funding high quality education and research projects into disorders of the human immune system in Australia and New Zealand.

In a press release announcing the launch, President of ASCIA, Clinical Associate Professor Richard Loh, said allergic disease – including asthma – affects almost 20% of Australians and New Zealanders, and this is rapidly increasing in young children, particularly food allergy.

It is anticipated that the process for requesting funds for research and education projects will commence in mid to late 2014.

In the first instance, the Foundation’s priorities for funding are centred on supporting more research into:

  • Potential new treatments and cures for allergy, primary immunodeficiency and autoimmune diseases.
  • Understanding why allergy and immune diseases are increasing so rapidly.
  • Preventing allergy from occurring in the first place.
  • Genetic testing and newborn screening for primary immunodeficiency.
  • High quality and far reaching education programs are urgently required to educate:
    • Health professionals about early detection of allergy and immune diseases.
    • The community about allergy and immune diseases.

More information about the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia, including ways to support its mission, can be found at www.allergyimmunology.org.au

The prevalence and distribution of food sensitization in European adults

Few multi-country surveys of the prevalence of food allergy have been conducted and standardised methodology has meant results of different studies are difficult to compare. A group of Europrevall researchers have assessed IgE sensitization to food-associated allergens in different regions of Europe using a common protocol.

Participants from general populations aged 20-54 years in eight European centres (Zurich, Madrid, Utrecht, Lodz, Sophia, Athens, Reykjavik and Vilnius) were briefly surveyed to determine whether they had allergic symptoms associated with specific foods. Weighted samples of those with and without allergic symptoms then completed a longer questionnaire. Samples were also collected to analyse IgE (by ImmunoCAP) for 24 foods, 6 aeroallergens. IgE for 48 individual food proteins were also analysed by allergen microarray.

The study found prevalence of IgE sensitization to foods ranged from almost 24% to approximately 7%. The most common IgE sensitizations were to hazelnut (9%), peach (8%) and apple (7%). The least common were to fish (0.2%), milk (0.8%) and egg (0.9%). The authors reported the order of prevalence of IgE sensitization against different foods was similar in each centre involved in the study and correlated with the prevalence of the pollen-associated allergens Bet v 1 and Bet v 2.

IgE sensitization to plant allergen components unrelated to pollen allergens was more evenly distributed and independent of pollen IgE sensitization. The most common foods containing allergens not cross-reacting with pollens were sesame, shrimp and hazelnut.

Reference: Burney et al. 2013 Allergy. Doi: 10.1111/all.12341.