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.
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.