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Anaphylaxis in a Milk-Allergic Child Following Ingestion of Lemon Sorbet Containing Trace Quantities of Milk

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Although allergic persons can react to foods containing trace quantities of unlabeled or unintended food allergens, there are few data available on the quantities of these allergens required to evoke allergic symptoms. We report a milk-allergic 3-year-old boy who experienced throat itching, facial angioedema, and vomiting within 20 min of ingesting 4 to 6 oz (ca. 113.4 to 170.1 g) of lemon sorbet. Subsequent analysis of two sorbet samples provided by the parents and a third sample purchased locally by the investigators revealed trace quantities of milk allergens, whey protein (8.8 μg/ml), or lactose (200 ppm). The quantity of whey protein ingested was estimated to be 120 to 180 μg (equivalent to 23 to 24 μl of milk). All three sorbet samples had been manufactured in the same plant within a 4-month period; the equipment used to produce and package the sorbet was also used to produce and package ice cream. No milk allergen or whey protein was detected in 38 other marketplace sorbet samples submitted by the manufacturer for testing. We concluded that trace quantities of whey proteins (<200 μg) can elicit systemic reactions in exquisitely milk-allergic individuals. Such individuals should avoid eating frozen desserts prepared using equipment also used for producing or packaging ice cream, unless manufacturers can demonstrate unequivocally that their cleaning practices are sufficient to prevent milk contamination. Adequate tests are not currently available to food manufacturers but are under development.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA 2: Private Practice, Bristol, Tennessee 37620, USA 3: Allergic Diseases Research Laboratory, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA 4: Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583, USA

Publication date: November 1, 1998

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