TABLE 4-16 Most Commonly Implicated Foods in Food Allergy Listed by Most Common Age Group Involved According to the Original Source

Adults

Children

Peanuts

Cow milk

Tree nuts

Eggs

Soybeans

Soybeans

Fish

Peanuts

Crustaceans

Wheat

 

Tree nuts

SOURCE: Hefle, 1996.

to affect less than 2 percent of the US population (Hefle, 1996). Of this group, 280,000 to 500,000 consumers may be at risk for developing allergic reactions to seafood (Lehrer, 1993; O’Neil and Lehrer, 1995). Since exposure is the mediating factor, occurrence tends to be more prevalent near coastal regions and will likely increase as per capita seafood consumption increases (Lehrer, 1993; O’Neil et al., 1993; O’Neil and Lehrer, 1995).

Exposure can involve ingestion, inhalation (of vapors), or product handling for consumption or occupation. Likewise, potential exposure can be hidden as the presence of the particular seafood item may not be obvious or expected due to an unidentified ingredient or misidentified ingredients (i.e., fish-based surimi used in a “crab” salad). It can also result from cross-contamination of nonallergenic foods from handling either with the same improperly cleaned utensils or through subsequent cooking in the same containers or cooking media (frying oil or boiling water) as seafood (O’Neil and Lehrer, 1995; Hefle, 1996).

Similar food intolerances that are misidentified as a seafood allergy can involve an abnormal physiological or sensitive response to components accompanying the seafood (Taylor and Nordlee, 1993). Exposure to sulfiting agents is a common suspect. Sulfites are among the most widely used food additives in the food industry (IOM, 1991; Otwell et al., 2001). They are approved for use in preventing discoloration caused by indigenous enzyme activity on shrimp, lobsters, and other crustaceans (FDA, 2001a). If the sulfite residual on certain foods is excessive and not bound to the food matrix, exposure for certain asthmatic consumers could result in serious reactions. The prevalence of such reactions has been estimated at approximately 3.9 percent of asthmatic patients (Bush et al., 1986). Adverse reactions to sulfite residuals on properly treated seafood are rare, since the sulfiting agents are usually bound to the food protein matrix and are not readily released in the throat or nasal areas during consumption. Regulatory HACCP mandates



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement