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Hum Exp Toxicol. 1994 Jun;13(6):393-9.

Prevalence of food additive intolerance.

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Institute of Toxicology, National Food Agency, Søborg, Denmark.


1. The existing prevalence estimates of food additive intolerance are being reviewed. 2. In the EEC report the estimated frequency of food additive intolerance is 0.03% to 0.15% based on data from patient groups. 3. The British population study results in a prevalence estimate of 0.026%. The challenged population is 81 children and adults with a history of reproducible clinical symptoms after ingestion of food additives. 4. In the Danish population study a prevalence of 1-2% is found in children age 5-16. In this study a total of 606 children mainly with atopic disease have been challenged. 5. The prevalence estimates vary with a factor 100. As the results vary so do the study populations. 6. If the different study populations are accounted for, a common conclusion can be drawn: Food additive intolerance is found in adults with atopic symptoms from the respiratory tract and skin. The prevalence estimates are questionable but may be less than 0.15%. In adults and children with reproducible, and with more subjective symptoms, such as headache and behavioural/mood change the prevalence is even lower (0.026%). Food additive intolerance is primarily found in atopic children with cutaneous symptoms where the additive is aggravating an existing disease. The prevalence of food additive intolerance in children age 5-16 is 1-2%.

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