To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research has been conducted into the underlying causes of food allergies to commonly available ingredients, with particular reference to (a) wheat, (b) dairy products and (c) nuts.
The Food Standards Agency is currently spending £800,000 a year on research into food allergy. This research focuses both on the occurrence of food allergies and the mechanisms underlying the reactions with emphasis on severe allergy, in particular peanut and tree-nut allergies. The FSA currently funds 12 research projects on peanut allergy (the main cause of food allergy related deaths in the United Kingdom) and one on dairy products. The FSA does not currently fund any research into wheat allergy, although the research on mechanisms may be of relevance. Further detail on the food allergy research programme can be obtained from the FSA research programmes annual report 1999–2000 which has been placed in the Library.