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Allergen Bureau News for May

Allergy Home website for food allergy training resources

Allergen is a new website that has been created and launched by two pediatric allergists based in the USA to provide training resources for those who care for children with food allergies. The objective is to bring food allergy awareness and education to the entire community.

AllergyHome has been developed to help a range of people include parents of children both with and without allergies, babysitters, relatives and children with and without allergies. Current training modules are freely accessible online and have been created in collaboration with relevant organizations and governmental agencies.

Current modules include: Camp staff training: Management of food allergies; How to use an EpiPen; What is a food allergy? (a short awareness module designed to teach children without food allergies what it means to live with a food allergy); An interactive quiz that addresses common myths and increases awareness; and Food Allergy Babysitter & Drop-Off Form. Additionally, includes modules created to train all camp staff as well as campers.

Visit for more information or to access the resources.

Australian researchers team up to tackle egg allergy

A collaboration between Deakin University, CSIRO and the Poultry Co-operative Research Centre is working to produce chicken eggs in which the four major allergenic egg white proteins have been ‘switched off’. The hypoallergenic eggs will reportedly produce chickens which lay allergy-free eggs.

According to a Deakin University media release, the proteins in the egg were being modified using RNAi technology that has previously been used by CSIRO to modify important traits in crops. The genes or DNA of the chickens was not being altered in the process, so the products were not classed as ‘genetically modified’.

The research aims to produce eggs for use in food consumption and the production of common vaccines such as flu vaccines. It is expected to take three years to complete the work, and vaccines made using the eggs may be available within five years. Hypoallergenic eggs could be available in supermarkets for human consumption within five to 10 years.

A full media release relating to this research is available from the Deakin University News Room.

Food allergen proficiency tests

Testing using an ELISA kit is one of the most widely used methods for determining the presence of allergens in food. It is well known that allergen test kits from different manufacturers give significantly different results, sometimes up to a factor of 2, and proficiency testing results are given different assigned values according to the type of kit used.

One of the major drawbacks of this approach is that a number of participating labs must all submit results for the same test kits in order to generate assigned values and z scores. Participants who use uncommon or in-house kits will not receive a score due to there not being enough data to generate consensus assigned values. Where assigned values have a high degree of variability, the z scores issued may be used for information only, rather than performance evaluation.

In recent Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme (FAPAS) proficiency testing rounds, a second spiked sample was sent to participating laboratories, in addition to the usual spiked and unspiked samples. The aim was to establish whether the use of a standardised calibrant could be used to normalise the complete data set.

The ratio of the submitted results for the two spiked samples yielded complete data sets which could be tested for normality of the distribution and demonstrated that the principle of applying a standardisation works. Certified reference calibration for food allergens would greatly assist in the performance evaluation of allergen testing laboratories.

Tannins may decrease peanut allergenicity in foods

Removing major peanut allergens by forming insoluble complexes with tannic acid may one day be used in the development of low-allergen peanut products. Early results of research conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture indicate that tannic acid forms insoluble complexes with peanut proteins and that these complexes are able to pass through the gut without release. Release of the allergens in the gut due to varying acidic conditions could lead to absorption and consequently an allergic reaction.

In the research, tannic acid formed complexes with peanut proteins in a peanut butter extract. These were tested at pH 2 and pH 8, equivalent to the pH of the gut. Despite these acidic conditions, the complexes did not release any of the major allergenic proteins found in peanut. Other complexes tested such as gallic acid released the peanut proteins under these pH conditions, indicating they are not as effective at removing proteins from the digestive system.

The authors note that animal or clinical studies are still needed before this work can be applied as a potential solution to peanut allergy.


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Top 10 Food allergy facts and statistics

Top 10 Food allergy facts and statistics

Food allergy is a growing public health concern in the U.S.

Allergy_foodThough reasons for this are poorly understood, the prevalence of food allergies and associated anaphylaxis appears to be on the rise.

  • Peanut allergy doubled in children over a five-year period (1997-2002)
  • More than 12 million Americans have food allergies.  That’s 1 in 25 or 4% population.
  • The incidence of food allergy is highest in young children – 1 in 17 are under age 3
  • About 3 million children in the U.S have food allergies
  • Eight foods account for 90% of all food allergic reactions in the U.S. Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat , soy, fish and shellfish.
  • There is no cure for food allergies Strict avoidance of the food allergen and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food are important.
  • Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.
  • Most people who’ve had an allergic reaction to something they ate thought that it was safe.
  • Food allergies are life-altering for everyone involved and require constant vigilance.
  • Early administration of adrenaline is crucial to successfully treating anaphylactic reactions.


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Low vitamin D levels linked to allergies in children

Low vitamin D levels linked to allergies in children

kidsIn February, a study of more than 3,000 children at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York showed that low vitamin D levels are associated with increased likelihood that children will develop allergies to both food and environmental allergens. Over the last five years, low vitamin D levels have also been linked to asthma, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia, schizophrenia and some common cancers as well as auto-immune diseases such as fibromyalgia and MS.
The best source of Vitamin D is the action of sunlight on the skin, so vitamin D deficiency is common in people who use sunscreen and other forms of sun protection or who spend little time outdoors. People with coeliac disease and other bowel conditions that cause malabsorption are also at risk. A failsafer whose dietitian recommended a blood test was surprised to find her daughter’s Vitamin D level barely in the normal range (55, regarded as sub-optimal) with no improvement after three months of trying to increase sun exposure.
In Australia and New Zealand, the official sun recommendation for exposure of unprotected face, hands and arms ‘most days’ ranges from 7 minutes at 10 am in summer in Northern Australia to 97 minutes in winter in Christchurch. According to researchers from the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory in Boston, in the absence of exposure to sunlight, a minimum of 1000 IU vitamin D per day is required to maintain a healthy concentration of vitamin D in the blood. Vitamin D supplements permitted on the strict elimination diet include OsteVit-D which contains the equivalent to 1000 IU vitamin D3 per capsule (consult your dietician).


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Gluten Free Research

pictSTUDY 1
Do you have coeliac disease and been on the gluten free diet for more than 2 years?

We are seeking volunteers in the Melbourne metropolitan area to participate in a trial investigating the effects of gluten on the ability to think clearly and perform complex tasks in people with treated coeliac disease.

The trial is being conducted at Box Hill Hospital and has been approved by the Eastern Health Research and Ethics Committee.

If you have treated coeliac disease, are aged between 18 and 60 years and have been on a gluten free diet for more than 2 years, we would welcome your participation.

If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Dr. Evan Newnham

Do you have newly diagnosed coeliac disease?

You may want to look into our clinical research study available for adults between the years of 15 years of age to 60 years of age with newly diagnosed coeliac disease who have been on a gluten free diet for less than 4 weeks. In this study we are seeking volunteers in the Melbourne metropolitan area to participate in a trial investigating the effects of a new medication to be used in conjunction with a gluten free diet in treating coeliac disease.

The trial is being conducted at Box Hill Hospital and has been approved by the Eastern Health Research and Ethics Committee.

During the study, you will receive all study required testing, healthcare and the study drug at no cost.
Subjects who are eligible to participate in this clinical trial include the following:
• Men and women between 18 years of age and 60 years of age.
• Have newly diagnosed coeliac disease
• Have been on a gluten free diet for less than 4 weeks
• Be able to attend Eastern Clinical Research Unit at Box Hill Hospital for a total of 8 visits over a 1 year period
* Not a full list of criteria

For more information, please call: Althea Barr, Clinical Trial Coordinator, Eastern Clinical Research Unit Box Hill Hospital, Tel: +61 3 9094 9544 or email

Does Gluten Cause Your Symptoms?

Volunteers are required for a trial investigating gluten intolerance in people who do NOT have coeliac disease.
We are seeking participants who
•Believe the gluten free diet has relieved their gut symptoms
•Have had coeliac disease ruled out
•Have currently well controlled symptoms
•Follow a gluten free diet
•Are aged 16 years or over
•Are Victorian residents

The study will involve consuming gluten at two different levels for 7 days each (all food provided), completing bowel symptoms and food diaries, a blood sample and collecting faecal samples.

If you are interested in participating and would like more information, please email or 03 9094 9530 or 0422 176 052. This study has been approved by Eastern Health Human Research Ethics Committee. Department of Gastroenterology, Box Hill Hospital.

Cognitive assessment and newly diagnosed coeliac disease

The aim of this study is to help learn if changes occur in symptoms that include irritability, poor coordination, depression, mental tiredness, poor memory and inability to concentrate when you start a gluten free diet. Information from the study may assist medical professionals in being able to better treat and manage the condition.
To be eligible for the study you must
•Have been newly diagnosed with a small bowel biopsy showing you have coeliac disease
•Have not yet started the gluten free diet, or have only been following it for less than four weeks
• Be aged 18-40 years
• Not have diabetes
• Be able to speak and read English
If you are interested and eligible, please click here or phone our department on 03 9094 9534 and ask for Dr Evan Newnham or email

Irritable bowel syndrome and crohn’s disease

Volunteers are required to trial a new Dietary treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s Disease.

For this trial we are seeking help from people who live in Melbourne with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and individuals with well controlled Crohn’s disease
WHO ALSO: Are otherwise in good health, are aged 18 years or older, and have not taken any antibiotics within the last two months.
The study involves consuming two different diets for 3 weeks each (all food will be provided), collecting breath, faecal and urine samples and completing bowel symptom and food diaries.

All information is kept strictly confidential. The research will be conducted by the Department of Gastroenterology, Box Hill Hospital.


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Healthy planning for the festive season

Healthy planning for the festive season

Top tips for surviving the holiday season

Food and Nutrition AustraliaI received this great article which outlined some great tips for the festive season and thought I would share them here.

  • Balance things out over the duration of the holiday period
    If you find yourself eating and drinking more on one day, aim to cut back a little the next day and/or increase your level of exercise. Eat small regular meals through the day so you still have enough energy to enjoy your summer.
  • Eat beforehand
    Have a light snack before your function so that you are not tempted to overindulge at the party.
  • Stay active
    The holiday season is a good time to go for a bike ride, walk along the beach, play with the kids or try a summer sport.
    A simple walk after Christmas lunch or before a function will also help.
  • Go for small amounts
    Choose smaller portions, eat slowly and enjoy.
  • Don’t stand near the food
    Remember – easy access encourages mindless picking. At parties, position yourself away from the food tables.
  • If you’re throwing a party, be creative with healthier party foods
    Include platters of vegetable sticks to accompany salsa-style dips instead of chips. Slice vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant and capsicum to throw onto the BBQ in addition to lean meats. Serve plenty of creative salads and accompany with fresh crusty grainy bread. Chop fresh fruit, thread onto skewers and serve with vanilla yoghurt for a healthy dessert.
  • Drink plenty of water
    If you are planning to drink alcohol, try to drink 2-4 glasses of water before you go out.
  • Keep an eye on what, and how much you drink
    Drink from a small wine glass and sip slowly. Try the new ranges of lower alcohol wines that are now on the market such as McWilliams Balance or Matua Valley First Frost. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or diet soft drinks. Minimise creamy cocktails such as Brandy Alexanders and Pina Coladas and choose low kilojoule mixers like soda or diet soft drinks.


For more helpful nutrition tips and up to date information go to the Food and Nutrition Australia website

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Allergen Bureau News

Safety of sourdough fermented wheat products for coeliacs

Allergen BureauResearchers in Italy have recently published the results of two studies into the safety for coeliacs of wheat products rendered gluten-free using sough dough fermentation. One of the studies was aimed at showing the safety of sweet baked sourdough products for young patients with coeliac disease while the other evaluated the safety of daily administration of baked sourdough products amongst adults with coeliac disease.

Clinical differences in peanut allergy around the world

Peanut allergy appears to have different clinical and immunological patterns in different parts of the world according to a recently-published study conducted on patients in Spain, Sweden and the U.S.A. The researchers looked at the symptoms, blood antibodies to peanut, sensitivities to several different peanut proteins, and sensitivities to a panel of grass and tree pollens in a total of115 peanut-allergic patients.

Buckwheat and other grains make good gluten-free products

Several different alternative crops including amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat, are increasingly being used as raw materials in the development of new gluten-free products with greater functional properties compared to conventional products made with wheat flours.


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