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Latex Protein: A Hidden "Food" Allergen?

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Avoidance of latex allergens is the primary method to prevent adverse reactions. Natural rubber latex is found in many different products in both the health care industry and in modern society, and consequently results in unexpected exposures of sensitized individuals. The use of latex gloves by food handlers provides one potential route for inadvertent exposure to latex allergens. In this study we have used two immunological methods to determine whether latex proteins are transferred to foods following contact with latex gloves. Direct transfer of latex protein to cheese was visualized using a modified immunoblot method. Sliced cheese was touched with a gloved finger. A nitrocellulose membrane was applied to lift the potential fingerprints and a rabbit anti-latex antiserum was used to visualize the transfer of any latex fingerprints. After handling lettuce with gloves, transferred protein was recovered by extracting the lettuce and quantified using an inhibition ELISA for latex proteins. Fingerprints of latex protein were readily detectable on cheese after contact with powdered latex gloves, but not with vinyl gloves. Furthermore, powdered latex glove use resulted in measurable amounts of latex protein on lettuce with an exposure-dependent increase in the latex protein levels. Lettuce alone or lettuce handled with vinyl gloves was negative for latex protein. The use of latex gloves by food handlers is the source of an indirect food additive in the form of latex proteins. It is recommended that food handlers avoid the use of latex gloves to eliminate inadvertent exposure of latex-sensitive individuals.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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