Gluten-free ingredient could cause allergic reaction

Tuesday, 02 September, 2014

Consumers buying gluten-free products could be unwittingly exposing themselves to a food allergen, according to a Kansas State University food safety specialist.

Lupin is increasingly being used to replace wheat in a number of gluten-free products. However, the legume belongs to the same plant family as peanuts and soybeans and could cause an allergic reaction in people allergic to these foods.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an alert urging consumers with peanut and soybean allergies to read labels before buying these products.

“Lupin is a yellow-coloured bean that’s very popular in Europe, Mediterranean countries, Australia and New Zealand,” said Karen Blakeslee, a Kansas State University extension specialist in food science and coordinator of the Rapid Response Center.

“However, it is new to the United States and, because of that, many consumers have never heard of it and may not realise that lupin has the same protein that causes allergic reactions to peanuts and soybeans.”

The FDA expects lupin will become widely used in gluten-free products because of its many health qualities. It is high in protein and dietary fibre, and low in fat.

US manufacturers are required to list lupin on the product label.

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