More Allergies on the Rise

By Heather Legg

We’ve been wondering over the past few years why allergies are so prevalent now. Adults now have trouble remembering anyone with peanut or milk allergies in their classrooms, or anyone who had to order burgers, no buns due to gluten allergies.

However, it appears that there are more allergies creeping up on the big 8 (shellfish, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs and fish). Fruits and vegetables are now entering the picture, according to a piece on http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2009/06/29/87825_horticulture.html:

Bananas and kiwifruit top of the list, along with peppers, capsicums, celery, mustard, apples and pears.

AA president Maria Said told The Weekly Times anaphylactic reactions to fruit and vegetables had been steadily rising for 10 years.

“In the UK they’re calling the fruit and vegetable allergy an epidemic – we’re not there yet in Australia, but it’s certainly on the increase,” she said.

“There are a lot of theories as to why, but no concrete answers.”

Researchers were trying to find the link between allergies to pollen and allergies to fruit and vegetables, according to Ms Said.

“It’s the protein in these foods that triggers the reaction . . . any food with a protein in it can trigger it, but for some reason we’re seeing the increase in banana and kiwifruit,” Ms Said said.

I know that strawberries and avocados have been on the rise, too. More and more people are having trouble with fruit with pits (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots). Often these are related to pollen allergies, known as Oral Allergy Syndrome where the mouth and lips itch. More and more often, though, these are becoming true food allergies. I know when I eat kiwis my lips often itch, pineapple is a culprit, too, making my mouth itch if I eat too much of it. A friend recently told me that though she loves cantaloupe, she no longer eats it as it makes her nauseas. Food allergy?

Currently with labeling, food manufacturers have to list the above top 8 allergens in ingredient lists and also with a contains label on the package. I wonder if more foods will be added to this list as the allergies get worse. Will they have to list strawberries and bananas, too?

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