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Allergy. 2001;56 Suppl 67:5-8.

Introducing chemists to food allergy.

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Centro di Allergologia e Immunologia Clinica, Ospedale Niguarda Cà Granda, Milan, Italy.


Adverse reactions to food may be toxic or non toxic, depending on the susceptibility to a certain food; non toxic reactions that involve immune mechanisms are termed allergy if they are IgE-mediated. If no immunological mechanism is responsible, it is termed intolerance. The following disorders are considered a consequence of food allergy: gastrointestinal reactions (oral allergy syndrome, vomiting, diarrhea, protein-induced enterocolitic syndrome, eosinophilic gastroenteritis); respiratory reactions (rhinitis, asthma, laryngeal edema); cutaneous reactions (urticaria-angioedema, atopic dermatitis); anaphylaxis. There is much recent evidence to consider celiac disease an immunological disorder. Food allergy diagnosis is based on history, SPT, specific IgE, food challenges. DBPCFC is fundamental for diagnosing true food allergy; patients who have had anaphylaxis to food must not undergo DBPCFC. Rapidly progressive respiratory reactions and anaphylactic shock are life-threatening reactions that can be caused by food allergy. The doses of food inducing anaphylaxis can be very low, therefore commercial cross-contamination with an unsuspected food during food processing can be risky for the food allergic patient. The prevention of severe anaphylactic food reactions may lie in interdisciplinary collaboration among allergologists, chemists, food technologists, and experts in food industry research.

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