Lupin and Peanut Allergies: How the Industrial Food Sector Skirts FDA Approval

    January 4, 2016

Last year, the Center for Public Integrity created a video about how easy it is for food additives to make it into the supply chain of food we find on store shelves. Some of these additives can be very dangerous — even life-threatening — especially to individuals with food allergies or other health conditions. According to the report, over 1000 additives are in foods we eat each day — ingredients that have not gone through the FDA approval process.Courtesy FDA.gov

In the case of lupin, also known as “lupine,” a legume that belongs to the same plant family as peanuts, the ingredient is used as a substitute in popular gluten-free foods. The main problem with lupin is that it can trigger adverse reactions in people with peanut allergies (including anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction requiring immediate medical attention). The other main problem is that the FDA, while recognizing lupin as a threat to public health for one company, has not ordered the ingredient to be labeled as a potential health hazard by the companies that did not seek FDA approval.

In a 2014 consumer update on the FDA website, the agency said: “…[f]or people who have an existing legume allergy, eating lupin could cause an allergic reaction on first exposure. Studies show that people who are allergic to peanuts, in particular, appear to have a greater chance of being allergic to lupin.”

The Center for Public Integrity explains how lupin has come to be a regular additive in foods, and how the industrial food sector has used a loophole in FDA’s regulatory oversight to add a variety of substances to the foods we eat every day.

And we don’t even know it.

Check out the Center for Public Integrity’s complete story here.

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