Lack of Data Makes Peanut and Food Allergy Management Difficult, Report Finds

ATLANTA (Dec. 5, 2016) – A wide-ranging report, Finding a Path to Safety in Food Allergy: Assessment of the Global Burden, Causes, Prevention, Management, and Public Policy; issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Nov. 30, calls for more accurate prevalence statistics, education and training, access to treatment and increased understanding of and approaches to food allergies.

The National Peanut Board was one of the study’s 11 co-sponsors. The report identifies broad areas and actions needed to improve the food allergy safety landscape in the U.S., while pinpointing needs for more research, better diagnostic tools and more effective educational approaches to food allergies. Recommendations are given to policy makers, industry leaders, health professionals and others to bring about a safe environment for those with food allergy. The report was authored by an ad hoc committee of experts.

“This report is good news for the peanut and food allergy community and the National Peanut Board is proud to be one of its sponsors,” said Bob Parker, president and CEO of The National Peanut Board. “The report adds weight to our successful peanut allergy awareness and education initiative, begun in 2014, and reinforces research conducted by the Board at that time showing significant misconceptions surrounding the prevalence of peanut allergies. We have long recognized the strong need to prioritize food allergy prevention, management and treatment research and to increase empathy for those with food allergies.”

The report addresses the confusion about accurate diagnosis of food allergies; both from a consumer standpoint and the medical community. According to an NASEM news release, “the public and health care providers frequently misinterpret a food allergy and its symptoms [and] cannot differentiate a food allergy from other immune and gastrointestinal diseases.”

“We wholeheartedly agree with the report that more resources should be directed toward accurate diagnosis,” said Parker. “We’re glad to see they recommend giving better evidence-based information and support to those who manage their own food allergies.”

The committee noted that there is too little research being conducted in food allergy prevention and treatment. The National Peanut Board is proud to have invested more than $11 million in peanut allergy research, awareness and education since its inception in 2001. Of equal importance is the Board’s co-sponsorship of the groundbreaking LEAP and LEAP-On studies, which found early introduction of peanut protein to infants to be a significant factor in the prevention of peanut allergies.

The report focused on several key recommendations to promote food allergy safety:

  • Obtain food allergy prevalence data in a systematic manner;
  • Improve quality of diagnostic methods and provide evidence-based clinical health care;
  • Identify evidence-based approaches for preventing the development of food allergies and update clinical guidelines with emerging scientific findings;
  • Improve education and training of healthcare professionals, food manufacturers, school staff, emergency responders and others;
  • Implement improved practices to prevent the occurrence of severe reactions (the committee highlights need for improved food labeling, among other recommendations) and;
  • Expand research programs for better diagnostics, effective management and food allergy therapies.

For report highlights, click here.
For the full report, click here.
For news release and committee roster, click here.

About the National Peanut Board

The National Peanut Board represents USA peanut farmers and their families. Through research and marketing initiatives the Board is finding new ways to enhance production and increase consumer demand by promoting the great taste, nutrition and culinary versatility of USA-grown peanuts. For more information about peanut allergies and effective management practices, visit www.peanutallergyfacts.org.

About the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. Their work helps shape sound policies, inform public opinion, and advance the pursuit of science, engineering, and medicine.

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