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Plant food allergies :
Field to table strategies for reducing their incidence in Europe

Contract number : QLK1-2000-01394
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 2.435.863
EC contribution : € 1.736.585
Starting date : 01/01/2001
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Barend Verachtert
Project website :
Dr Karin Hoffmann-Sommergruber
University of Vienna
Department of Pathophysiology
Währinger Gürtel 18-20
1090 Vienna
Tel.: +434 40400
Fax: +431 404005199
E-mail: Karin.Hoffmann @

The EU is actively encouraging consumption of fruit and vegetable for positive health benefits. Apples are the most widely grown and consumed fruit in Europe, but around one million people are apple allergic. A number of major apple allergens have been identified but detailed information on sensitisation patterns is lacking. Focusing on apple allergy the project will characterise allergens, and linkages with severe versus mild symptoms using fruit-allergic patients from across Europe. It will also provide the European Agro-Food industry with strategies to ensure the availability of high quality low allergen foods in European and export markets thus extending consumer choice of fresh or processed food stuffs with reduced or abolished allergenicity. It will also supply the consumer with reliable and independent information about low allergenic alternatives (existing cultivars and GMO).


The major objective of this project is the reduction of the incidence of fruit allergy in Europe focusing on apple with findings then being extended to other fruits of the rosaceae. The agro-food industry will be provided with advice on agronomic practices storage conditions and processing methods that ensure production of marketable fruit with low allergen levels and thereby contribute to reducing the incidence of fruit allergies. Consumers will be provided with information about low allergenic alternatives and greater opportunity to purchase fresh or processed food stuffs with reduced or abolished allergenicity. Methods will be developed (i) to improve diagnosis of food allergy (ii) for quality control of apple allergenicity in fresh fruit/processed foods.

(expected) Results and achievements

Year 1: Web site for information dissemination.

Year 2: Screening techniques for allergen levels in fresh fruits/fruit products; identification of cultivars with low allergen; production of recombinant allergens.

Year 3: Patient allergen profiles linked to geographic areas and mild severe symptoms. Effects of ripening/treatments/processing on allergen levels determined. Consumer attitudes towards low allergenic cultivars evaluated. Methods established to investigate the function of one apple allergen.

Exploitation will be evaluated during this project in relation to the following aspects:

  • evaluation of low allergen varieties;
  • marker-assisted breeding;
  • processing strategies to minimise allergen contents in foods;
  • exploitation of fundamental knowledge of allergen properties in diagnosis and prevention of food allergies.


Institute of Food Research
Food Quality and Materials Science
Norwich Research Park, Colney
NR4 7UA Norwich
United Kingdom
Central Laboratory of The Netherlands
Red Cross Bloodtransfusion Service
Department of Allergy / C.L.B.
University of Amsterdam
Plesmanlaan 125
PO Box 9190
1006 AD Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Plant International
Droevendaalsesteeg 1
PO Box 16
6700 AA Wageningen
The Netherlands
Institute of Applied Microbiology
Plant Biotechnology
University of Agriculture
Muthgasse 18
1190 Wien
Fundación Hospital Alcarcón
Unidad de Alergía
C/ Budapest 1
28922 Alcorcón
Rauch Fruchtsäfte GmbH
Langgasse 1
Postfach 170
6830 Rankweil
Medical Faculty Dermatology/Allergology
Utrecht University
Heidelberglaan 100
PO Box 85500
3508 GA Utrecht
The Netherlands
Norfolk Fruit Growers Ltd
Tunstead Road
NR12 8QN Hoveton, Norfolk
United Kingdom

Fifth Framework Programme

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