Consumer Assurance Programmes
Duplicate Testing for Allergens
Debunking allergen myths PART 2
Debunking allergen myths PART 1
Is your company's ACP recall-proof?
Not all gluten is equal...
Meat adulteration
Proficiency testing
Meat Species Substitution
Peanut & tree nut allergy
How should one label a non-dairy product?
Mapping the future of fish sustainability
Swabbing for allergen detection
FACTS Wheat & Gluten Testing article published
Allergen labelling in the EU and US
FACTS Guideline: Cleaning of allergens in food processing environments
Lactic Acid Starter Cultures May Contain Milk
FACTS reports now include allergen threshold levels
Potential food allergens in wine

The FACTS team send bi-monthly newsletters which include important information based on findings in the FACTS laboratory and deals with allergen management issues. The newsletter also includes upcoming events of interest.

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In this issue:

The status of food allergen recalls worldwide

Cumin: A recent cause for peanut-related recalls

Watch out for lupin!

May 2015

The status of food allergen recalls worldwide

Due to the absence of the appropriate infrastructure to record and report food recalls in South Africa, we look to international governments to support our theories regards allergen recalls.

In Australia, Canada and the US, the top cause for food recalls is undeclared allergens. In Australia, the most common cause for food recalls over the period of 2005-2012 has been due to microbial contamination, with undeclared allergens increasing over this period to become the most common cause from 2013 onwards. In 2014 36% of all food recalls were due to undeclared allergens.

In Canada, microbial contamination was also the biggest cause historically, but from 2010 onwards undeclared allergens became the most common cause. In 2014 food recalls due to undeclared allergens in the USA contributed 43% to the total number of recalls, also being the most common cause for food recalls.

The food allergens responsible for the most number of recalls in Australia/New Zealand is peanut, followed by dairy and wheat/gluten. In the US dairy is the most common allergen responsible for recalls followed by wheat and soya.

The categories of food products where most recalls occur in Australia/New Zealand is processed foods, confectionary and baked goods. Similarly bakery, snack and candy products are the most commonly affected categories in the US.

Cumin: A recent cause for peanut-related recalls

Recently international media has reported a spate of cumin, and to a lesser degree paprika, and products containing these spices containing undeclared peanuts or almonds. The FACTS laboratory confirmed the presence of peanut and almond/mahaleb in locally obtained samples of cumin and paprika. The FDA reported multiple product recalls due to allergic reactions. Although some experts believe that this is purposeful and economically motivated, others argue that as cumin is grown, in some cases, by many small farmers, that aggregation of the product by collectives and movement along the supply chain, allowed the inadvertent contamination to occur.

Health Canada has found that almond may in fact be mahaleb, derived from cherry seeds, which in laboratory testing is highly cross-reactive with almond. Whether mahaleb is therefore also highly cross-reactive with almond in a clinical setting is unknown but theoretically possible, which may suggest that cumin contaminated by mahaleb may still pose a risk to consumers. Health Canada claims there is no risk but there is no clinical evidence to confirm this. Regardless, cumin is expected to be pure.

For more information regards recalls which have taken place please see:

Watch out for lupin!

A Cape Town allergy clinic has reported five recent anaphylactic (life-threatening allergic) reactions to lupin. These individuals did not know that they had an allergy to this legume; they did however all have a peanut allergy...

As with most food allergens, people can develop an allergy to lupin over time. However, for people who have an existing legume allergy, eating lupin could cause an allergic reaction on first exposure. Studies show that people who are allergic to peanuts, in particular, appear to have a greater chance of being allergic to lupin. While many parents know to look for and avoid peanut ingredients in the diet of their peanut-allergic child, they may have no idea what lupin is or whether it is an ingredient that could cause their child harm.

Lupin seeds can either be eaten whole or else crushed to make lupin flour, which can be used in baked goods and pasta. Lupin-derived ingredients are good substitutes for gluten-containing flours and are more frequently being used in gluten-free products. Allergy to lupin has been recognised for some time in Europe, where lupin flour is used fairly commonly in food products, but we rarely see it in South African food products.

Lupin being present in imported ice cream cones was the cause of some of the Cape Town reactions. Manufacturers or importers, please be aware of importing or using lupin in food products.