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FDA approves peanut allergy claim

For the first time, the US FDA is allowing a food company to claim its products may prevent peanut allergies. However, the evidence supporting the claim is limited to one study.

The FDA’s claim says “For most infants with severe eczema and/or egg allergy who are already eating solid foods, introducing foods containing ground peanuts between 4 and 10 months of age and continuing consumption may reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy by 5 years of age.”

A petition from Assured Bites initiated the FDA’s qualified health claim. The company makes Hello, Peanut! kits for infants, which slowly introduce ground peanut flour into their diets.

FoodDive.com presents analysis of this development:

The FDA’s approval for a peanut allergy prevention claim is a game changer for infant and baby food. Peanut allergies can be deadly, and food allergies in general are on the rise.

Peanuts were the most commonly identified food causing a life-threatening allergic reaction, according to a recent study.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that food allergies rose 18% among children between 1997 and 2006.

Parents of infants may be inclined to make the investment to buy products with the FDA’s peanut allergy claim, thinking the ounce of prevention could save them from complications down the road. This opens up a whole new sub-category of baby food: allergy prevention CPGs.

Brands that contain other common allergens — like tree nuts and seeds, eggs, soy, and milk products — may now make the sizable investment in R&D to petition the FDA for a similar claim. It could be a way to take an ingredient that was previously a liability and make it a value-added commodity.

In the big picture, the FDA’s endorsement is a big step forward for public acceptance of allergy prevention as a sound theory.

Previously, published studies found similar evidence that allergies can be prevented by the slow introduction of a food. However, getting the FDA’s stamp of approval means the average consumer may now take these claims seriously.

Expect to see more products pursuing a similar FDA approval.

Parents will likely see this first FDA claim as a way for them to take a proactive approach when it comes to their children’s dietary well being. Up until this point, the focus on food allergies was avoiding products that contained potentially offending ingredients.

Source: FoodDive.com; www.hello-peanut.com

Related reading:

New immune-based therapy may cure kids of peanut allergy

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