ALLERGENS IN FOOD

WHAT ARE ALLERGENS?

Allergens are substances that evoke immune response in some people when they come in contact with it. The allergens mostly cause a IgE mediated immune response on their first exposure or on re-exposure lead to allergenic reactions in the body. They are mostly non-infectious environmental substances which act as foreign particles or antigens to our body.

Food allergies mostly appear right from childhood (about 2 years of age) and in some cases either disappear in course of growing up or persists till adulthood. Allergenic reactions caused by food, mostly lead to cardiovascular , respiratory distress, digestion problems or inflammation, rashes in the skin.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT SOURCES OF FOOD ALLERGENS?

The most important classes of food allergens are found egg proteins, milk proteins, peanuts, treenuts,  wheat, etc. Also, Mustard, celery, soya, lupin, sesame can also cause allergy. The proteins present in these foods elicit allergenic reaction in humans which may range from mild to severe.

The following table lists the potential allergenic proteins in common foods:

The most important classes of food allergens are found egg proteins, milk proteins, peanuts, treenuts,  wheat, etc. Also, Mustard, celery, soya, lupin, sesame can also cause allergy. The proteins present in these foods elicit allergenic reaction in humans which may range from mild to severe.

The following table lists the potential allergenic proteins in common foods:

FOODALLERGENIC PROTEIN
MilkCasein , beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin
EggOvomucoid , ovalbumin, conalbumin, lysozyme
Tree nuts2S albumin, 7S storage globulin, 11S seed storage globulins,etc
Fish (crustaceans)Parvalbumin
Soya7S and 11S seed storage globulin
WheatGluten (prolamins, alpha-amylase/trypsin inhibitors, glycosylated peroxidase)
COMMON ALLERGENIC PROTEINS

But it must be mentioned that each individual might show allergenic reactions to a unique ingredient and may show mild to rarely severe symptoms

WHAT ARE THE REGULATIONS FOR ALLERGEN LABELLING IN INDIA?

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has laid down guidelines for the following ingredients which are known to cause allergy shall be declared separately as

“Contains………………………. (Name of allergy causing ingredients)” –

(i) Cereals containing gluten; i.e., wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt or their hybridized strains and products of these;

(ii) Crustacean and their products;

(iii) Milk & Milk products;

(iv) Eggs and egg products;

(v) Fish and fish products;

(vi) Peanuts, tree nuts and their products

(vii) Soybeans and their products;

(viii) Sulphite in concentrations of 10mg/kg or more.

TREATMENT OF FOOD ALLERGIES

The most common treatment for food allergies is the complete avoidance of the suspected allergenic food item. Other therapies include sublingual, subcutaneous immunotherapy, denaturation of proteins, etc. food challenge trials can be conducted to gauge the immune reactions caused by the suspected allergens.

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