Food allergy research – will it help?

Manchester University have announced the launch of a massive research project about food allergies. They state that food allergy detection and management is thwarted by lack of evidence regarding prevention of or protection against food allergies – http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=9743

On the face of it, this is great, particularly their focus on food manufacturing processes to prevent cross contamination and to promote clearer food labelling. For those with severe, life threatening allergies this will definitely make life easier, and safer.

It can take so long to examine the small print on packaging – some of it so tiny it’s almost impossible to read! And then there are the warning labels that just seem to be having a laugh – the tuna tin that warns it contains fish. Or peanut butter – contains peanuts!! Mind you, I watched Hungry for Change recently, a film about the food and diet industry (http://www.hungryforchange.tv), where it talked about a blueberry and pomegranate breakfast cereal which contained neither blueberries or pomegranate, so I guess you can never be too sure!

Will this study really tackle the issues surrounding food allergy? There is a list of well known food products that are allergens – milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, shellfish to name a few. For those with food intolerance the list is seemingly endless; in an inflamed state, it would seem that the body can develop issues with any food stuff (my latest one seems to be lentils – how can that be???.) Manufacturers seem to add elements of many of these products into their food products. Milk or one of it’s derivatives appears in the most unexpected places (sweet chilli crisps?).

For me, the underlying issue comes back down to food processing and how we prepare and eat our daily intake. Processed food, which is really what this project is about, is generally devoid of nourishment and full on sugar, fat and profit. Whilst we continue to fill our bodies with poor quality fuel, underlying sensitivities and intolerances will continue as the body battles to keep clearing out toxins, constantly playing catch up to promote wellness.

Maybe Manchester University should focus their research on the benefits and healing properties of a wholefood, plant based diet rather than continuing the status quo with food manufacturers. Not sure where the funding would come from then, though – carrots just don’t bring in the big bucks!! It will be interesting to see what “safe allergen threshold” are, what conclusions are made in three years time. In the meantime I’m going to minimise my processed food and keep to the fresh stuff – don’t need my reading glasses for that!

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