Lupine Allergy Overview

A Rare Allergy Related to Peanut Allergy

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Lupin is a purple flower. Patrik Neckman

Lupine is a flowering plant whose seeds are cultivated as food. Lupine belongs to the same botanical group as peanut (legumes). Lupine is high in protein, consisting of about twice the protein found in legumes consumed by humans. It is also a good source of dietary fiber. It originates from the Mediterranean, but eighty percent of the world production is completed in Australia.

Flour Made from Lupine Seeds

Lupine seeds can be eaten whole or crushed into flour.

Since the early 1990’s, and due to its high protein content, lupine has been added to bakery flour blends, especially in European countries. It has also been used as a substitute for wheat flour. Lupine improves water binding, texture, shelf life, aroma and the overall nutrient content in baked goods.

Lupine is present in many products, including up to 10% of bread products and 0.5% to 3% of pastries, and its presence in food products is increasing. Lupine flour is added to bakery items, such as pasta, pies, waffles, pancakes, crepes, crumbles, pizza and deep fried vegetables such as onion rings. You’ll find lupine used as a substitution for eggs in cakes, pancakes, biscuits, or brioche, and added to some pasta and crackers. It has also been used as a substitute for butter in cakes, brioche and croissants.

Health food stores tend to have more lupine-containing products, and you will find lupine in gluten-free products as well.

Lupine has been found in German burgers and sausages, and also in cosmetics.

Allergy is Rare but Growing

Lupine allergy is rare, but has been growing. The first case of lupine allergy was reported in 1994 due to ingestion of lupine-containing pasta. Lupine allergy can be a stand-alone allergy or it can be related to the co-existence of peanut allergy.

Cross-reactivity between lupine and peanut has been shown in approximately 30% of peanut allergic individuals. Beta-conglutin has been identified as the major lupine allergen involved in cross-reactivity to peanut allergen.

For a long time, lupine was a hidden source of allergen in baked goods, as it wasn’t listed on the ingredient label. Currently in Europe, lupine must be declared on food labels according to the Commission Directive. In 2006, Europe included lupine in the EU foodstuff allergen list to prevent severe allergic reactions by hidden food allergens. The United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand do not include lupine among the ingredients that must be listed on food labeling.

Symptoms of Lupine Allergy

Although symptoms will vary among individuals, these are the most commonly seen symptoms with lupine allergy:

  • Hives
  • Itchy, tingly mouth
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe asthma
  • Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting

Identifying Lupine

The Latin word for lupine is lupinus.

The following names on the ingredient label will alert you to the presence of lupine:

  • Lupine
  • Lupin flour
  • Lupin seed
  • Lupin bean

Those individuals with lupine allergy or peanut allergy should be aware of lupine-containing foods when traveling to Europe or consuming imported foods from Europe. Inquire at bakeries, read labels and be aware of symptoms with cross-contamination or accidental ingestion.

Resources

Kohajdova et al. Lupin composition and possible use in bakery—a review. Czech J Food Sci. 2011; 3: 203-211.

Ballabio C et al. Characterization of the sensitization profile to lupin in peanut-allergic children and assessment of cross-reactivity risk. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2013; 24(3): 270-275.

Jappe U et al. Lupine, a source of new, as well as hidden food allergens. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Jan;54(1):113-26. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900365

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