Background The prevalence of food anaphylaxis due to masked allergens has increased within the last 10 years. Contamination of manufactured products by food allergens is a key concern for food industries.
Objective To determine quantities eliciting reactions in patients who have an IgE-dependent food allergy, thanks to standardized oral provocation tests. To evaluate the subsequent levels of sensitivity required for the detection tests of allergens for egg, peanut, milk and sesame.
Methods Prick-in-prick tests, Cap system RAST, and single or double-blind placebo-controlled food challenges (SBPCFC or DBPCFC) were performed. The doses of natural food were gradually increased from 5 to 5000 mg for solid food and from 1 to 30 mL for peanut oil, sunflower oil, soy oil and sesame oil.
Results Data from 125 positive oral challenges to egg, 103 to peanut, 59 to milk and 12 to sesame seeds were analysed. Haemodynamic modifications were observed in 2%, 3%, 1.7%, and 8% of the oral challenges (OCs) to egg, peanut, milk and sesame, respectively. Respiratory symptoms were observed in 12%, 20%, 10% and 42% of egg, peanut milk and sesame allergies, respectively. A cumulative reactive dose inferior or equal to 65 mg of solid food or 0.8 mL of milk characterized 16%, 18%, 5% and 8% of egg, peanut, milk and sesame allergies, respectively. 0.8% of egg allergies, 3.9% of peanut allergies, and 1.7% of milk allergies reacted to 10 mg or less of solid food or to 0.1 mL for milk. The lowest reactive threshold has been observed at less than 2 mg of egg; 5 mg of peanut, 0.1 mL of milk and 30 mg of sesame seed. Ten out of 29 OC with peanut oil, two out of two OC with soy oil and three out of six OC with sunflower oil were positive. Five out six OC with sesame oil were positive: 1 and 5 mL induced an anaphylactic shock.
Conclusion The risk of asthma and anaphylactic shock to sesame and peanut is confirmed. Minimal reactive quantities show that, in order to guarantee a 95% safety for patients who are allergic to egg, peanut and milk, and on the basis of consumption of 100 g of food, the detection tests should ensure a sensitivity of 10 p.p.m. for egg, 24 p.p.m. for peanut and 30 p.p.m. for milk proteins. Oil allergies being considered, the limit of sensitivity should fall to 5 p.p.m.