Update on threshold doses of food allergens: implications for patients and the food industry.Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2004; 4(3):215-9CO
PURPOSE OF REVIEW
The purpose of this review is to bring the reader up to date on the importance of assessing a food's lowest observed adverse-effect level (LOAEL) with two aims. Firstly, to help industry choose tests with a level of sensitivity capable of detecting food allergens hidden in industrial products. Secondly, to specify protective measures for highly allergic individuals in order to prevent recurrent severe anaphylaxis. The review also seeks to highlight the present issues and unsolved questions.
Thanks to standardized oral-provocation tests (double-blind placebo-controlled food challenges), LOAELs have been identified for many IgE-dependent food allergies. Most studies concern the pediatric population. Data is available for milk, egg, peanut, wheat flour, and sesame. The LOAELs are commonly in the range of 1-2 mg of natural foods, representing a few hundred micrograms of protein. These minimal reactive doses characterize about 1% of people allergic to milk, egg, or peanut. The level at which no observed adverse effect is seen might be a few tens of micrograms of protein for peanut. At the present time, allergy to oil seems to be restricted to unrefined cold-pressed oils.
Concerning IgE-dependent food allergies, the threshold dose inducing symptoms is now known to vary a great deal according to the individual. A reactive dose of less than 65 mg characterizes 16 and 18% of patients allergic to egg or peanut. Less than 30 mg of milk proteins characterizes 5% of those allergic to milk. For milk, egg, and peanut, 1% of patients have a very low threshold, about 1 mg. Such data emphasize the necessity of using detection tests with a sensitivity better than 10 parts per million. The modifications of allergenicity undergone by protein ingredients that are now commonly introduced into industrially made products are not yet sufficiently known. A better knowledge of the reactive doses of these proteins is needed.