Food allergy risk: Lupin must now be identified in meals

Andrew Thomson writes that hospitals and aged-care facilities providing meals to patients should be aware that Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has changed the Food Standards Code to require lupin to be declared when present in a food as an ingredient, or component of ingredients, including food additives and processing aids.

As at 26 May 2018, all foods must comply with the new requirement of declaring lupin in food.

Lupin is a high protein legume which is (GM-free and gluten-free) like soy and peanut and has the potential to be an allergen. Some people who are allergic to peanuts may also be allergic to lupin.

Lupin has not been commonly used in Australian or New Zealand foods. However, it can be found in a wide range of food products including bread, bakery and pasta products, sauces, beverages and meat-based products such as burgers and sausages. Gluten-free or soy-free products may sometimes contain lupin.

In light of the Victorian Coroner’s recent findings in regard to the death of Louis Tate, this is an issue all food service managers and chefs should be on top off and is discussed in the Winter Edition of the Australian Hospital + Healthcare Bulletin.

Warning: Communion bread contains gluten

I grew up Catholic and still go to church every Sunday with my family. I remember my father dragging me out of bed every Sunday to attend mass. Then afterwards, in the true Italian spirit, we would have a massive feast with extended family, heavy on the carbs, great time.

During mass, I was never a huge fan of everyone sipping out of the same wine goblet, always found that gross, but never thought of gluten in the communion bread, especially for those with Celiac disease.

The New York Times report:

The unleavened bread that Roman Catholics use in the celebration of Mass must contain some gluten, even if only a trace amount, according to a new Vatican directive.

The directive, which was dated June 15 but received significant attention only after it was reported by Vatican Radio on Saturday, affirms an existing policy. But it may help to relieve some of the confusion surrounding church doctrine on gluten, a protein that occurs naturally in wheat and has become the subject of debates over nutrition and regulation.

The issue is especially urgent for people with celiac disease, a gastrointestinal immune disorder that causes stomach pain, diarrhea and weight loss and that can lead to serious complications, or for those with other digestive conditions that make them vulnerable even to small amounts of gluten.

Many other people who do not have celiac disease may nonetheless have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten, and yet others have adopted a gluten-free diet in the belief that it is healthier — although science is far from clear on this point.

In both the United States and the European Union, the description “gluten-free” can be legally applied to foods made with wheat starch from which almost, but not absolutely, all gluten has been removed — the upper limit is 20 parts per million. The Catholic church will allow bread of this kind to be used for communion.

But it will not allow truly gluten-free altar breads made with rice, potato, tapioca or other flours in place of wheat. (The Anglican Communion has taken a similar position, while some other Christian denominations consider such breads acceptable.)

Protein Balls recalled in Australia because of nuts

The New South Wales Food Authority advises:

health_food_ballsHealth Lab has recalled its Energise Choc Protein Balls and Refresh Choc Mint Protein Balls sold at Caltex in NSW, QLD and Vic and On The Run stores in SA due to the presence of an undeclared allergen (cashew nut).

Product details are:

* Energise Choc Protein Balls

– Plastic packaging, 40g

– Best Before 09/03/2017, 23/03/2017, 04/04/2017

* Refresh Choc Mint Protein Balls

– Plastic packaging, 40g

– Best Before 13/03/2017, 05/04/2017, 17/04/2017

Consumers who have a cashew nut allergy or intolerance should not consume this product.

Consumers should return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

For more information contact Health Lab on (03) 9999 8535 or via www.healthlab.com.au 

UK restaurateur sentenced to 6 years after peanut allergy death

The owner of an Indian takeaway in North Yorkshire has been found guilty of manslaughter after a customer with a nut allergy was served a meal containing ground peanuts.

food.allergensThe trial was told Mohammed Zaman had cut corners by swapping the thickening agent almond powder for the cheaper groundnut powder, which contained peanuts.

Although the vast majority of restaurants are safe, a number each year are found to have breached laws and guidelines.

Since December 2014, takeaways and restaurants have been required by law to let customers know if any of the 14 most dangerous allergens are ingredients in their food.

They include peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, crustaceans and mustard.

Paul Wilson, 38, who suffered an anaphylactic shock after eating a meal from Zaman’s business, died before the change in the law, but the trial heard he had flagged up his peanut allergy to the restaurant and his meal had been labelled as “nut free”.

Another customer with a nut allergy had to be treated at a hospital after eating at Mr. Zaman’s restaurant three weeks before Mr. Wilson’s death. Like him, she had been assured her meal would not contain nuts, prosecutors said.

Mr. Zaman was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence in the death of Mr. Wilson, and six food safety offenses. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

indian gardenHe had a “reckless and cavalier attitude to risk,” the prosecutor, Richard Wright, told a jury at Teesside Crown Court.

It marked the first time in Britain that someone has been convicted of manslaughter over the sale of food.

David Pickering, of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), said: “Some [restaurants] will have it in a book, some will give you the information verbally. If they can’t give you it, don’t eat there.”

Increased action required to protect those with food allergies

Our daughter has been diagnosed with a moderate shellfish allergy, which is a shame with all the great shellfish in and around Brisbane, but more importantly it means we carry an epi pen and know how to use it.

food-allergies-imageIt’s made me more empathetic to those with severe allergies.

An independent review of the UK’s food system has concluded more action needs to be taken in order to better protect people with food allergies. That’s according to a report from a leading UK team of food safety experts, including Professor Chris Elliott from Queen’s University Belfast, a co-author of a paper published in The Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Analyst, outlining a strategy to close the gaps in current processes for detecting and measuring allergens – substances in foods that can trigger an allergic reaction. The publication comes during the UK’s Allergy Awareness Week (25th April – 1 May).

Food allergy is a rapidly growing problem in the developed world, affecting up to 10 per cent of children and 2-3 per cent of adults. Allergic reactions can range from a mild runny nose, skin irritation or stomach upset to severe anaphylaxis, which can be fatal.

Food allergies have significant impact on quality of life and usually require lifelong avoidance of the offending foods. There are also burdens on health care, the food industry and regulators.

Professor Elliott and Professor Duncan Burns, Emeritus Professor at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security, are among a team of experts led by Michael Walker from the Government Chemist Programme at LGC, which has outlined a ‘grand vision’ to address the key challenges in allergen measurement and analysis. They make a series of recommendations primarily addressed to the European Commission’s Health and Food Safety Directorate, DG Santé, aimed at securing a food chain which is reliable, resistant to fraud and ultimately safe for consumers.

Professor Elliott is a world-renowned expert on food fraud and traceability and led the independent review of the UK’s food system following the 2013 horsemeat scandal. He said: “The food supply chain is highly vulnerable to fraud involving food allergens, risking consumer health and reputational damage to the food industry. Cross-contamination during production, processing and transport is also a problem. While efforts have been made to improve food labelling and introduce the concept of threshold quantities for allergens, these depend on being able to accurately detect and quantify allergens in the first instance. Gaps in the current system mean that it is difficult to achieve this.

“This paper sets out a strategy to address those gaps and calls on the EC to take action in three particular areas. Firstly, the use of bioinformatics studies for modelling how best to predict what allergens present in foods, and specifically what quantities of these allergens, will adversely affect the health of someone with food allergies. Secondly, the development of reference methods which will provide a ‘gold standard’ for the detection and measurement of allergens in food. And thirdly, the production of reference materials which can support threshold decisions -samples of foods with known, controlled amounts of allergens present, to allow for checks on the accuracy of allergen testing methods.”

Significant international effort and an inter-disciplinary approach will be required to achieve these aims and protect those at risk of food allergies. Lead author of the report, Michael Walker from LCG said: “If we fail to realise the promise of future risk management of food allergens through lack of the ability to measure food allergens properly, the analytical community will have failed a significant societal challenge. Our recommendations are complex with associated resource demand but rarely has such an exciting interdisciplinary scientific endeavour arisen as a solution to a key socially relevant problem.”

The open access paper in Analyst is available at  http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2016/an/c5an01457c?page=search.

More support for early exposure to peanuts to prevent allergies

There’s a lot of mights and maybes, but according to scientists, evidence is accumulating that food allergies in children might be prevented by feeding infants peanuts and other allergenic food in their first year of life.

That finding would challenge the recommendation of the World Health Organization that babies be fed exclusively breast milk for the first six months of life.

“At least as far as peanut is concerned, I would recommend parting from that,” Dr. Gideon Lack, professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London, told the N.Y. Times.

chapman.peanuts.apr.10Dr. Lack was the senior author of a study last year that found feeding peanuts to young children starting when they are 4 to 11 months old sharply reduced the risk of their developing peanut allergies. That upended the conventional wisdom that it is best to avoid introducing peanuts until children are older.

Those results are already starting to affect feeding practices, but they left several unanswered questions. Now, some of those questions were answered by two additional studies that are being published in The New England Journal of Medicine and presented here at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology on Friday.

One question was whether children who consume peanuts from an early age will still remain free of allergies if they stop consuming them. The researchers followed the children from the original study for another year, from the time they turned 5 until they turned 6. For that year, they were not supposed to eat peanuts at all.

The results were reassuring. There was no big increase in allergies.

“It tells you the protective effect is stable,” Dr. Lack said.

Another question was whether the early feeding technique could be applied to other types of foods and to children at normal risk of allergies. (The original study involved children deemed to have a high risk of peanut allergy.)

The researchers conducted a second study at King’s College London involving 1,300 infants who were 3 months old and being fed only breast milk. Half were randomly assigned to continue on only breast milk until 6 months of age, which is the recommended practice in Britain. The other half were to be regularly fed small amounts of peanut butter and five other allergenic foods: eggs, yogurt, sesame, white fish and wheat. The children were assessed for allergies when they turned three.

Overall, 5.6 percent of the babies who were fed the allergenic foods early developed an allergy to at least one of the six foods, a modest improvement from the 7.1 percent in the breast-milk-only group. However, the difference was not statistically significant, meaning it could have occurred by chance.

One problem was that fewer than half the parents in the early-introduction group actually fed their children the required six foods on a regular basis. But when researchers looked only at those children whose parents adhered to the feeding regimen, there was a statistically significant reduction in allergies. Only 2.4 percent of those children developed a food allergy, compared with 7.3 percent of those whose parents faithfully stuck to breast milk only for six months. There were also significant reductions in peanut allergies alone and egg allergies alone.

In a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Gary W.K. Wong, a pediatrician at Chinese University of Hong Kong, cautioned about jumping to conclusions. He said that in any case, the fact that so many parents did not stick to the regimen suggested it was too demanding to be practical, and that less burdensome ways must be found to introduce allergenic foods early.

“In the meantime,” he said, “evidence is building that early consumption rather than delayed introduction of foods is likely to be more beneficial as a strategy for the primary prevention of food allergy.”

 

Food fraud: Aust. pine nuts recalled after they were found to be peanuts

A Brisbane wholesale company has urgently recalled a product over fears of allergic reactions that could “put customers in danger” due to incorrect labelling.

pine.nutsQueensland Health has been alerted to the issue by Country Fresh Food Products after plastic containers of pine nuts were found to actually be peanuts.

The incorrect labelling on the containers could lead to an allergic reaction if a person with peanut sensitivities ate the nuts.

The company only discovered the error after a customer contacted them to report the nuts smelt like peanuts not pine nuts.

Further product testing revealed the error and the company is working with Queensland Health.

The company bought the plastic containers from an importer based in Victoria.

FSIS releases new guide to help food processors control potential allergens, other hazards

The  U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released new guidelines to assist meat, poultry, and processed egg product producers in properly managing ingredients that could trigger adverse reactions among consumers with allergies or other sensitivities.

food.allergies“Our mission as a public health agency is to protect America’s most vulnerable populations, including children, from harm, and these new guidelines do just that,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “Beyond keeping our families safe, these guidelines also provide a useful tool to help food companies avoid preventable, costly recalls.”

Food allergens are a public health issue impacting millions of Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that two percent of adults, and four to eight percent of children, in the United States have food allergies. Food allergens can cause serious symptoms and can result in anaphylaxis, a potentially life threatening reaction.

Over the last several years, in part due to new actions by FSIS, there has been an increase in recalls of FSIS regulated products due to undeclared allergens. These problems often are caught by FSIS inspectors during labeling checks and are the result of changes to ingredient suppliers, products being placed in the wrong package, or changes to product or ingredient formulations.

By following these new guidelines, establishments are more likely to ensure that product labels declare all ingredients, as required by law, and that products do not contain undeclared allergens or other undeclared ingredients.  The guidance covers prevention and control measures of potentially allergic ingredients, packaging, labeling, storage, checklists, and allergen training, among others.

The finalized guidelines are part of FSIS’ comprehensive and ongoing efforts to reduce the number of allergen-related recalls. In April 2015, FSIS inspectors met with management at every FSIS-regulated establishment in the country to discuss whether the establishment produces items containing allergens, and, if so, whether the establishment had a process in place to ensure proper labeling. FSIS inspectors then increased the number of allergen labeling-related inspection checks they conduct in these establishments in order to ensure products are properly labeled. The Agency believes that this action has made plants more conscious of properly labeling their products and prevented additional recalls this year.

The guidelines can be found online at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/AllergenGuide

Over the past six years, USDA has collaborated extensively with other federal partners to safeguard America’s food supply, prevent foodborne illnesses and improve consumers’ knowledge about the food they eat. USDA’s FSIS is working to strengthen federal food safety efforts and develop strategies that emphasize a three-dimensional approach to prevent foodborne illness: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery.

Food fraud consequences: 10-year-old died in Melbourne after drinking coconut milk as importer admits label charges

But why wasn’t the investigation and cause revealed earlier, to warn and hopefully prevent further cases. Maybe it has something to do with the legal system in Australia.

coconut.drinkMaybe it doesn’t.

A 10-year-old child died from an allergic reaction in Dec. 2013 after drinking a “natural” coconut drink imported by a Sydney firm.

The canned product from Taiwan, Greentime Natural Coconut Drink, is sold in most states and was recalled just over a month later following the tragedy. But it was never revealed that it was blamed for causing the fatal anaphylactic reaction in the child from Melbourne.

The NSW Food Authority said importer Narkena Pty Ltd, based in western Sydney, pleaded guilty in September to three labelling charges and will be sentenced later this month.

The authority said the company entered pleas of guilty to two charges that the drink was labelled in a way that falsely described the food and to one charge of selling food in a manner that contravened the Food Standards Code.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Coroner said a decision about whether there would be an inquest would be made after the other court hearings were concluded. Lawyers are understood to be pursuing a civil action against the importer.

Despite the tragedy occurring some 22 months ago, it was only in August that a suppression order was applied for in relation to the case.

The child, as a minor, cannot be named by The Sun-Herald.

The child is understood to have had an allergy to dairy products. The NSW Food Authority said at the time that the recall was because the milk content was not declared on the label.

Narkena Pty Ltd did not respond to a request for comment.

Five coconut drinks have been recalled in the last four weeks, all because they contained undeclared cow’s milk according to Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia.

Last month, The Sun-Herald reported Aiden Henderson, nine, who is allergic to dairy products, went into anaphylactic shock after drinking the flavoured drink Coco Joy. It is also imported by a Sydney firm and was recalled after the incident.

Maria Said, president of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia said she was dismayed that although the coconut drink the child consumed immediately before the anaphylaxis that took his life was found to contain cow’s milk, it had taken almost two years for other similar products to be investigated.

“Surely someone in the food science industry would have known the cow’s milk was used for a functional purpose in coconut drink and if that was the case, it would likely be in other coconut drinks,” she said.

“Another child’s near-death experience after drinking a different coconut drink in July 2015 prompted NSW Food Authority to test other coconut drink products, some of which have now also been recalled due to undeclared cow’s milk. The spate of coconut drink-related recalls continues as it should have from Jan 2014.”

 

UK restaurant owner faces manslaughter charge in fatal peanut allergy case

The owner of an Indian restaurant accused of the manslaughter of a customer who suffered a fatal allergic reaction to peanuts after eating a meal is due to appear in court.

paul.wilson.peanut.allergyMohammed Zaman, 52, owner of the Indian Garden in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, is due to enter pleas at Teesside Crown Court today after he was charged over the death of Paul Wilson (right).

The 38-year-old customer suffered a severe anaphylactic reaction and died after buying a curry from the restaurant in January last year. It was claimed he requested no nuts.

As well as manslaughter by gross negligence, the restaurant boss is charged with perverting the course of justice by forging a food safety training certificate, an immigration offence relating to the employee who served the contaminated meal, and food safety offences.

Zaman, from Huntington, York, was granted bail at a previous hearing.