Q&A: Is There A ‘Safe Level’ for Peanut in Foods?

in Features, Food Allergy, Peanut & Tree Nut
Published: October 16, 2011

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GS: Now, you’ve discovered what you think is the safe level of peanut for the 99 percent of allergic individuals. [This will be discussed in the Winter issue of Allergic Living magazine.] But that was based on analysis of 750 subjects in France and the Netherlands. I understand you will be doing further research?

ST: Some people might have a concern, can we rely on this European data to predict what would happen [to patients] in the U.S. and Canada? We are continuing to do research and we are about to start what we call the “One-Shot Experiment”.

[He explains that as potentially peanut-allergic subjects as they show up at certain allergy clinics and as part of their appointment], they will be given this one dose that we have chosen …. So we’ll see if the dose distribution curve [which they’ve created from past studies] is predictive where a much wider range of people are tested in a lot more centers. It’s a very easy thing for the doctor to give the patient one little thimble of stuff to drink.

[Patient consent is given to take part. They can decline.]

GS: Will the “One Shot” be at your predicted safe level?

ST: We’re going higher than that. We’re going to use a dose that 5 percent of peanut-allergic individuals are predicted to react at and now we’ll see if they really do. This “dose distribution” is really important. We have to make sure that it’s right. If it’s wrong, we’ll need to start all over.

No one should be ready for us to do this yet [offer up a safe level]. You ask us if we have a threshold level yet? Yes, we do. But we’re not going to recommend it [to public health agencies for review] until sometime after this One-Shot Experiment.

GS: In the food-allergy community, fears about food safety still trump convenience and choice. Do you agree this “safe level” discussion will be controversial with the community?

ST: I think it will be controversial, alright. Many of these consumers are understandably anxious and I think especially if their child has experienced one of these reactions or in the first days or months after diagnosis, when you’re still trying to figure out how to keep your child safe. My peanut-allergic daughter is 33 so I’m relaxed now [Taylor chuckles, then turns serious]. But I wouldn’t blame consumers at all for being skeptical until we document that this is OK through the One-Shot Experiment.

For details about FARRP’s predicted safe level, the views of allergists, the questions of fatal reactions at reportedly small amounts of peanut allergen, plus why FARRP’s scientists are confident they can make life safer and food choices more reliable for the peanut-allergic, get the Winter 11-12 Allergic Living magazine.


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