A legume called lupin: What you need to know

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – A warning for shoppers looking for gluten free. Manufacturers could be substituting one allergen for another that could be dangerous or deadly for certain people.

People allergic to lupin may not even know about it until they have a reaction. That was the case for 15-year-old Orion who knew he had a peanut and tree nut allergy.

“When he was about 18-months-old I gave him his first peanut butter and jelly sandwich and he immediately began to break out in kind of a hive around his face,” said Kelley Lindberg, Orion’s mom.

But just as they were about to head to Europe, his mother was alerted to another potentially serious allergen called lupin. Orion was allergic to that too.

“I was not expecting to be going to Italy where he would be allergic to an ingredient in pasta and pizza,” said Lindberg.

While lupin has been used in European products for years, now it’s making its way to the United States as a flour alternative in gluten-free foods. The problem is, many people don’t know it is a legume from the same plant family as the peanut.

“There are case reports of people having severe life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to lupin. Both people who have a history of pre-existing peanut allergy and others who are eating peanut just fine,” explained Dr. David Stukus an Allergist with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Other symptoms include hives, swelling of the lips or face, G.I. distress, respiratory issues, even cardiovascular collapse. The Food and Drug Administration recently put out a statement on its website and is currently monitoring complaints.

“With the growth of the gluten-free market, we’re going to see more products with lupin in them coming into this country,” said Stefano Luccioli, Senior Medical Advisor with the FDA.

While in Europe lupin is required to be listed on food products as a potential allergen, right now the U.S. only requires that it be listed as an ingredient.

“It’s a little early to think that lupin is a significant cause of allergen in the united states to actually put an allergy warning on there. However, people who have pre-existing food allergy, especially peanut allergy, should be aware to read labels,” said Dr. Stukus.

The FDA wants to stress that for the majority of people lupin is considered a safe and nutritious food. It’s only a problem for those who are allergic.

For more information on lupin, click here

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