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One-third of food packaging contaminated with substance that may cause allergic reactions

Monday, August 07, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: food packaging, grocery warning, allergic reactions


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(NewsTarget) A study by Britain's Food Standards Agency has found that one-third of food packaging is contaminated with latex, which can trigger potentially fatal allergic reactions in sensitive people.

In some cases the latex on the packaging -- which is normally destroyed by heat during the sealing process -- is transferred to the food, especially in ice cream and chocolate packaging, which uses a "cold sealing" method. There is currently no law requiring latex to be listed on food labels.

"Latex can give contact hypersensitivity ... and so these individuals should avoid touching contaminated packaging," says Professor Barry Kay, an allergy expert at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. "There should be legislation on latex used in food packaging."

Graham Lowe, an expert with the UK Latex Allergy Support Group, says, "For a few people, natural rubber latex is a very potent allergen and for [them] there is no safe level of exposure." While no "safe" amount of latex has been agreed on, experts say just a billionth of a gram is enough to cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Two recent reports of allergic reactions to latex in chocolate bars indicate that the proteins from the latex could be migrating to certain foods from their packaging. The study found that in the case of the packaging of a particular brand of chocolate cookies, the amount of latex present was 20 times the amount necessary to produce a reaction in sensitive people.

The Food Standards Agency says it is too early to make conclusions about latex in food safety, and advises people not to change their eating habits.

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