The growth of food allergies is attributable to many factors, including genetics, microbial environmental alteration, hygienicity, but most importantly, food processing and modification. The food manufacturing and processing industry has grown pretty steadily since 1997.
The timing of the rise of food manufacturing industries occurred almost simultaneously with the timing of the rise of food allergies (~15 years ago), supporting food processing and modification as a major proponent in food allergy evolution. Furthermore, food processing is shown to increase the amount of IgE in serum, meaning that a stronger allergic response is triggered as a result of more antibodies binding to the newly-modified antigens.
Above are a list of 50 foods in natural, raw form (left) vs. processed form (right). For the top 8 allergens, some of the pairs include:
- Wheat vs. doughnut
- Milk vs. ice cream
- Egg vs. egg roll
- Shrimp vs. popcorn shrimp
- Whitefish vs. fish sticks
- Nuts vs. nut butter
It is clear that sausage, peanut butter, soy sauce, candy pecan, cooked salmon, fried shrimp, fried bacon, fried chicken, and boiled egg all exhibited higher levels of IgE when introduced into an individual’s bloodstream. The data depicts an average 4x increase in IgE for the processed form of the food vs. raw. A 4x increase is very significant, especially when across all food types.
Going through my personal diets these past several weeks, there was an overall avoidance of processed, packaged foods. I encountered many “hidden ingredients” and contamination warning labels that deterred me from being able to ingest particular pantry foods:
Nature Valley Granola Bars: contains maltodextrin, which is possibly contaminated with wheat
Quaker Oatmeal: cannot be guaranteed wheat-free because it is made on equipment that manufactures wheat products
Bakers Chocolate Chips: manufactured on equipment that processes nuts
Food Manufacturing NAICS 311, (2008). U.s. department of commerce industry report. Retrieved from website: http://trade.gov/td/ocg/report08_processedfoods.pdf