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What’s not to love about strawberries? Allergen Awareness

Anyone for tennis? Yes, Wimbledon started this week and let’s hope Andy Murray can repeat Sunday’s success when he won the trophy at Queen’s. We at VWA won’t be the lucky ones with a ringside seat at Centre Court SW19 (we’ve got courses to run! Including our new Creative Legal Labelling course) but we can enjoy a glass of Pimms and a bowl of strawberries and cream and catch up on the day’s events from the comfort of our sofas.

Strawberries are a good source of Vitamin C

British strawberries are now abundant in the shops and the deliciously sweet aroma alone is enough to tempt you away from the chocolate bars. Eight medium-sized strawberries are only around 50 calories, but as well as being the calorie counter’s friend they are also extremely nutritious. Those eight strawberries are also packed with Vitamin C; they contain potassium and folate which help to form healthy bone mass; and they also contain anthocyanin pigments which are anti-carcinogenic. Sadly they won’t make you a better tennis player – but you can’t have everything.

Strawberry allergies

Strawberries might well be nutritious and delicious to most of us, but there are a small percentage of people who are allergic to them. Symptoms of a strawberry allergy can manifest themselves in different forms and some are more severe than others. These can include: a rash or red ring around the mouth; eczema; diarrhoea; vomiting; hives and/or swelling; swelling or itching of the mouth, lips or tongue; tightness in the throat and/or difficulty breathing.

Although it is not currently a legal requirement to list strawberries as an allergen on food labelling it may be so in future, together with other potential allergens such as kiwi fruit, bananas, buckwheat, pine nuts, tomato, legumes and various seeds. To find out more about allergens and how to manage them during food production, please see details of our Managing Food Allergens course. We will also have an online Allergens course available soon.

New research shows tick may be responsible for red meat allergy

On the subject of food allergies, I read an interesting piece today in Food Processing magazine which claims that an insect, the Lone Star Tick, has been responsible for causing severe allergic reactions to red meat in the USA. Apparently when the tick bites somebody it injects them with a sugar called alpha-gal that causes future encounters with the substance, which is also in red meat, to trigger an allergic reaction. The symptoms take longer to present than in a normal allergic reaction and range in severity from abdominal cramps to anaphylaxis and even death. For the full story click here

Getting bitten by a tick is something that is not easy to control, so thankfully this insect has not reached our shores as far as we’re aware. However we should all take allergen management seriously. For those ingredients listed as common allergens it is a legal requirement, it is also a responsible act which protects consumers, protects brand reputation and avoids costly product recalls.