Apple Allergies …

Apple Allergies …

Submitted by the Boyers


Hi Tami, Bob wanted me to forward this info to you. Perhaps you would be interested in including it in the newsletter. Marianne


From: [] On Behalf Of Jonathan B. Bishop

Subject: Apple-Crop: Spraying and food allergies


Hello all,

I just had an inquiry from a customer who is planning to bring a child with a food allergy to our farm. She said “there have been several reported allergic reactions to nut allergic individuals after ingesting apples that have been sprayed (even after being washed).”


She couldn’t name which product might have been responsible. I am not aware of these cases. Has anyone in this group heard of these incidents? Is anyone aware of ingredients or derivatives of compounds in any of the pesticides we use in the industry that could cause problems for people with food allergies?


Jonathan Bishop


From: [] On Behalf Of Miller, Stephen

Subject: RE: Apple-Crop: Spraying and food allergies




I know pesticides are a convenient “target” for many problems or perceived problems, but your situation sounds like it may be an allergic reaction to apples, not pesticide(s).  I know, how could anyone be allergic to an apple, but it’s more common than you might think.


First, we receive here at the lab annually a report detailing the analysis of foods and other products from the EPA and associated federal labs.  I can tell you that in all my years of looking at these reports the incident of any pesticides detected on foods collected from grocery stores and other outlets is less than 5% of products sampled.  In those incidents where pesticide residues are found I have never seen one above the level allowed by law and in most cases the levels found are in the very low parts per million to parts per billion range.  That’s not to say that a pesticide in extremely low levels couldn’t cause an allergic reaction, but I think it is highly unlikely.


Secondly, and more likely to be the causal factor in your case, is the fact that apples and some other fruits, vegetables and nuts contain a protein named Mal d 1 which is known to cause an allergic reaction.  We have a technician here at AFRS who is highly allergic to apples and can not eat them (He’s an entomology tech who worked in Mass, and New England for many years – you may know whom I’m talking about).


Mal d 1 is similar to a protein found in birch pollen, a common cause for allergy.  A substantial part of the population in Northern Europe suffers from birch pollen allergy, and most of them also show reactions toward certain plant derived foods, apple being one of them.  In Sweden up to 90% of birch pollen allergic patients are sensitized to apples with symptoms like itching and swelling of lips, tongue and throat after ingestion.  Work on Mal d 1 protein has been carried out in Europe and the UK.  Some apple cultivars are apparently high in this protein while others are low, as you might expect.  Detailed information on Mal d 1 and other similar allergic proteins may be found in various scientific technical journals, mostly medical field journals, such as Allergy (year), J Allergy Clin Immunol. and others.


Hope this information is helpful.


PS:  I’m a pomologist, not a food scientist or molecular biologist, so please don’t ask for more fundamental details than I have provided.  I just happen to know this piece of information !



Stephen S. Miller, Ph.D.

Research Horticulturist

Appalachian Fruit Research Station


From: Mosbah Kushad

To: ‘Apple-Crop’

Subject: RE: Apple-Crop: Spraying and food allergies


Steve: Excellent summary..  In addition to Mal d 1 apples also contain Bet v 1 and Mal d 2, 3 and 4 allergens; fortunately they are not serious allergens.   In a recent study, only a very small percentage of those that have birch pollen allergy showed any reaction to the apple fruit when it was peeled.  Mosbah Kushad University of Illinois


From: [] On Behalf Of Jerry Frecon

Subject: Apple-Crop: Spraying and food allergies


Although any child or adult could be allergic to any food, such as apples Steve alluded too, other fruits, vegetables, and meats, there are eight foods that account for 90% of all food allergic reactions. These are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut (walnut, cashew, etc.) fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. I am allergic to Vitis labrusca grape varieties and get characteristic swelling in my throat, arms, eyes, fingers and hives over my body. I think there could also be others things in an orchard like weeds that a very small percentage of people could be allergic to. Allergies should not be confused with intolerances. However I think both physicians and people find it easy to blame pesticides for all sorts of allergies or intolerances when as Steve describes they are there in such minuscule quantities it is hard to fathom that they could cause any reaction.


However I know some are so scared of pesticides that the word may cause an anxiety attack. Of course insects can cause the same reaction to some people. In conclusion, I am also both allergic and intolerant to sulfur and sulfur containing medications, foods and pesticides. As a youngster, I remember how we used to use sulfur dusts to spray everything. I have been in some organic and non organic farms today that use a great deal of sulfur and it is sometimes coated on the fruit and leaves. I cannot tolerate this environment or fruit that is coated with sulfur.


Jerry Frecon




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