There are more allergens than just peanuts

Added on 29 Aug, 2007 . There are .

There seems to be a big thing now with TV advertising promoting the fact that some manufacturers are labelling their products, always junk foods though, as "peanut free". Peanuts are not the only food allergen in the world, though to see the marketing you'd think it was.

I realise that peanut free foods are useful, but there are loads of them about anyway, like fruit, vegetables etc. And making sugary snacks peanut free for school lunch bags is not only a perceived "safety" issue. It's also a gimmick.

More and more people are having problems with wheat, it may not be an allergy, it may be as investigations in my case have pointed to, an auto-immune reaction. But I don't see adverts on the TV saying "this product has been specially created to be wheat or gluten free".

In the US it is estimated that 6 in every 1000 people have peanut allergies, and that 7.5 in every 1000 people have celiac disease. So why isn't it worth the manufacturers going big on making products wheat free. Well because the figures quoted above are for people (encompassing kids and adults). Not kids alone. The figure for peanut allergies in kids is actually estimated at 8 in every 1000 kids.

So now we see why it's attractive for manufacturers to push "peanut free" junk foods. Because they are aiming directly at the one market that is easily tempted and then that market uses all its persuasiveness to make sure that parents fall into the trap of buying those goods.

Putting that aside, the fact is that the human race wasn't designed to eat wheat, and wheat has crept into every part of 21st Century life. Even disposable plates, utensils, bags etc are being made from wheat so that they are more "environmentally" friendly. Not more people friendly though. How pleased am I going to be to eat off a plate made from wheat with a wheat derived disposable fork? About as pleased as I'm going to be coming round in A&E with a large medical bill being waved under my nose.

However there is a new greed in town, for crops that can be made into biofuels. This may (or may not for countries who rely on wheat to avoid starvation) herald a turning point in the amount of wheat that creeps into our foods.

Previously I've ranted about wheat being a cheap filler, and therefore sneaked into foods where it has no place in being, e.g. yogurt. However with the media now reporting that wheat prices are about to go through the roof because of the demand for cereal crops to create biofuels, it makes me wonder if the unnecessary wheat in our diet may be going the way of the dinosaurs...