Background: Mustard allergy accounts for 1.1% of food allergies in children. However, double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge trials (DB PCFCs) have not yet been proposed.
Objective: To carry out DB PCFCs to determine the real frequency of mustard allergy in patients sensitized to mustard.
Methods: A prospective study was conducted in 30 subjects aged 3–20 years presenting positive prick tests to ground mustard seeds (Brassica nigra), mustard flour (B. juncea), metabisulfite-free strong mustard seasoning (B. juncea) and a commercialized allergenic extract (B. nigra). Twenty-seven subjects were screened for mustard-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE). PCFCs were carried out either DB or single blind (SB) with up to 1340 mg of metabisulfite-free seasoning.
Results: The mean diameter of the wheal induced by prick tests with the allergenic extract was lower (n.s.) than that induced by the native mustard products: 5.8 mm (1.5–15) vs 6.9 mm (0.5–18) for B. nigra ground seeds, 7.8 mm (1–20) for B. juncea flour and 9.7 mm (3–20) for the strong mustard seasoning. The diameter of the wheal induced by the allergenic extract was significantly different from that induced by the mustard seasoning (P < 0.005). The mean of mustard specific-IgE values was 8.7 KU/l (0.35–72.4). Seven of 30 food challenges were considered positive. Mean prick test results in the positive and negative PCFC subgroups were 5.5 mm vs 5.9 mm for the commercialized extract, 10.9 mm vs 5.8 mm for B. nigra ground seeds (P < 0.01), 9.9 mm vs 7.1 mm for B. juncea flour (n.s. P > 0.25) and 11.5 mm vs 9.1 mm for the metabisulfite-free mustard seasoning (n.s. P > 0.1). Mean specific IgE values determined by CAP system radioallergosorbent test (Phadebas Pharmacia) were higher but not significantly so (P > 0.25) in the subgroup with mustard allergy (12.3 K/l vs 7.6 KU/l).
Conclusions: About 23.3% of the sensitized subjects were allergic to a routine dose of mustard. Positive prick tests and the presence of specific IgE were not predictive. SB PCFC or DB PCFC is required before recommending avoidance diets.