The increasing popularity of lupin as a food additive in gluten-free products is causing concern among some in the industry because of its potential to cause allergic reactions that many US consumers may not realize.
According to FDA, which has issued and alert on the ingredient, lupin-derived ingredients are used in gluten-free products because they are good substitutes for gluten-containing flours.
“We’re seeing more gluten-free products on the grocery aisles these days,” said Stefano Luccioli, senior medical advisor at FDA.
But food safety specialists at Kansas State University warn the legume, which is in the plant family as peanuts, contains the same protein that causes allergic reactions to peanuts and soybeans.
“Lupin is a yellow-colored bean that's very popular in Europe, Mediterranean countries, Australia and New Zealand,” said Karen Blakeslee, Kansas State University extension specialist in food science and coordinator of the Rapid Response Center. “However, it is new to the US and because of that, many consumers have never heard of it and may not realize that lupin has the same protein that causes allergic reactions to peanuts and soybeans.”
Blakeslee reminded consumers that allergies can develop at any point in a person’s life and consumers should know how to spot the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Manufacturers are required to list lupin on the food label. According to FDA, reactions to lupin can include anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening and can occur very quickly.
FDA says consumers wishing to avoid lupin — and those with peanut allergies, who need to be particularly careful — can identify its presence by looking for “lupin” or “lupine” on the label.