Lupin the friend, lupin the foe …

Quick post about a news item this week which caught my eye, on the increasing prevalence of lupin being used in products Stateside.

Lupin has the potential to cross-react with peanut and soya – meaning some people with peanut and soya allergies will react (potentially dangerously) to this legume, even upon first contact with it. This is not in itself news: we have known about it for at least a decade. Lupin is one of the 14 key declarable allergens - having been added along with molluscs to the other 12 in (I think) 2012.

Although it’s more popular in Mediterranean countries, it does crop up in the UK occasionally – for instance,  last year in Heinz’s new range of gluten-free pastas. Thanks to the very nutritious flour that lupin produces, it’s an understandable inclusion, and could well become much more common, especially in gluten-free products. 

Although several bloggers and websites such as FreeFrom Foods Matter did comment at the time on the inclusion of lupin in the Heinz pastas, and mentioned that peanut allergics especially ought to be beware, to my knowledge Heinz did not make any particular warning statement about it – either on pack or elsewhere. Might this have been because the products were aimed at coeliacs – rather than peanut allergics?

In America, this label below used in this week’s story does make a statement on pack. I’m not sure of the brand behind the product, but I found it interesting and quite thoughtful of the manufacturers. You could argue the statement – ‘lupin is a legume related to peanuts and soya’ – is not quite explicit enough, but it’s surely enough of a ‘stop and think’ comment to make anyone with allergies to peanuts, especially, think twice, perhaps consult with their allergist in the first instance, or else take some other precaution before devouring a plateful of the pasta?

Credit: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

What do you think? Would you find warnings of possible cross-reactions on foods helpful? And should they extend to allergens not on the 'big 14' list? Given that there are dozens of potential cross-reactions which have been identified by researchers and immunologists, it would be impossible to account for every conceivable outcome on all foods – especially since allergy boxes are in effect being phased out by the new legislation coming into effect this December – but perhaps at the most extreme end of the allergic / anaphylactic spectrum, they would be beneficial?

If you’re interested in learning more about lupin allergy, and the link to peanut allergy, there’s more at the Anaphylaxis Campaign website here.

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