Research investigates alcohol’s role in allergy

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food allergy

The acid make-up of the stomach plays an important part in allergies
The acid make-up of the stomach plays an important part in allergies
The role that factors such as alcohol and antacid consumption and exercise play in people’s susceptibility to having allergic reactions to certain foods is being investigated in a new study by Leatherhead Food Research (LFR).

The research, announced at a LFR conference on nutrition last month, aims to assess anecdotal evidence that allergic reactions can be triggered or heightened by extrinsic factors other than consuming an allergen alone.

The work is being carried out as part of a four-year international study called Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management (iFAAM), which began in 2013 and is coordinated by Clare Mills, professor of allergy at the University of Manchester.

Standardised approach

The iFAAM project aims to produce new health advice to help people avoid food allergies and to develop a standardised approach to allergen management for food companies.

Professor Martin Wickham, head of nutrition at LFR, explained that even when a product was deemed to be low risk to, say, peanut allergy sufferers because it contained allergens at levels below those known to cause a reaction, other dietary and external factors could still result in adverse reactions.

“The acid make-up of the stomach is very important in allergic people,​” said Wickham. “It may be that a product has an extremely low level of an allergen in it, but if it was consumed with a glass of wine, it could cause an allergic reaction.”


It is essential not to look at allergens in isolation, because consumers don’t just eat foods on their own, Wickham added.

A two-part method would be used to study the effects of alcohol, exercise and antacids on allergens in the gut. He said: “The first will be carried out in the lab using in-vitro digestion models, which would chew and simulate gastric digestion, allowing us to see how the allergens are broken down.”

The results will be fed into the wider iFAAM project to help firms provide labelling data. The idea is to enable manufacturers to gauge whether their product needed to have a ‘may contain’ box, said Mills.

Related topics Food Safety

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