Centuries ago, Lucretius said that one man’s food may be another man’s poison. Such is the case with food allergies. Individuals with food allergies and other types of food sensitivities react adversely to the ingestion of foods and food ingredients that most consumers can ingest with no problems.

Eating is necessary to sustain life. For most consumers, eating is an enjoyable experience given the variety and abundance of foods available in the marketplace. For some individuals, however, consuming…

Fig. 2—Mechanism of IgE-mediated allergic reaction. Allergen is consumed, sensitizing the individual. Sensitization results in production of allergen-specific IgE-antibodies which then attach to receptors on mast cells and basophils. Upon subsequent exposure to the allergenic substance, the allergen cross-links two antibodies on the surface of the mast cell or basophil membrane, stimulating release into tissues and blood of chemical mediators of the allergic response. Adapted from Taylor et al., 1999.

Fig. 3—Decision-tree for assessment of allergenic potential of foods derived from biotechnology (FAO/WHO, 2001).

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