This week Down Under

Adolescent food allergies ‘concerningly’ high

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: New zealand, sugar tax, Allergy

One in 20 of all Australian adolescents now have a food allergy—a worryingly high number according to the authors of a new study.

In an examination of the frequency of food allergy in 10,000 children aged 10-14, it was found that peanut and tree nut allergies were the most common, with each affecting 2-3% of adolescents.

The study is one of the few population-based analyses using the gold standard of oral food challenge.

It also suggested that previously reported rises in food-induced anaphylaxis may actually reflect the increasing commonness of food allergy, rather than a growth in the reporting of anaphylaxis. 

Lead author Mari Sasaki, of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, that that although the rate of food allergy is not as high as in infancy, it is still “concerningly​” high in early adolescence. 

The results, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology​, also reveal that cashew had the highest prevalence of the tree nuts allergies, and egg had the highest reaction among non-nut foods. 

More from Down Under…

Support for sugar tax remains constant among Kiwis

The number of Kiwis in favour of a tax on sugary drinks has hardly changed in the last year, after a new poll revealed that two thirds of respondents continue to support such a move.

Sugar

The UMR Research survey by Auckland University found that 67% of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that a tax should be imposed.

The data reinforce the almost identical results of a Colmar Brunton poll conducted in April 2016.

Support was evenly split across all income levels. Those expected to be most opposed to a tax—the lowest income group which consumes the most sugary drinks—were most strongly in favour.

Despite the results of these surveys, health minister Jonathan Coleman said the government's position on a sugar tax hadn't changed.

"It's not something we're actively considering. We are continuing to keep a watching brief on the emerging evidence and practice​,” he said, adding that there had been no evidence that a tax on sugar would have an impact on obesity rates.

The opposition Labour party is preparing its own sugar tax policy, however.

Azelis acquires Chemcolour

Azelis has agreed to fully acquire Chemcolour, a leading food ingredients provider in Australia and New Zealand. 

Azelis

The Belgian-based multinational says the deal, which will bring Chemcolour’s 90 staff into its fold, will cement its position as one of the region’s top distributors. 

Chemcolour has shown steady growth in speciality chemicals and food ingredients division. 

Chemcolour has significant presence and a long-standing history in both New Zealand and Australia. Their business model is fully tailored to local markets, not only in their superb product portfolio and service, but also in the technical knowledge and commercial skills of their people​,” said Laurent Nataf, Azelis’s regional chief executive. 

It is a perfect fit, as we have always strived to be the best local champion in every region we serve. I am confident we will create many synergies and achieve new wins together​.” 

The transaction is expected to close in the next few months. 

Grocery council explains why some foods cost more in NZ than Australia

Some food prices in New Zealand are higher than in Australia due mainly to economies of scale that come with a bigger population base, says the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council. 

Australia

Commenting on claims by expats living in Australia that their food bill was much lower than in New Zealand, the FGC attributed some of the blame to the economic growth in emerging markets in Asia and the Far East.

As the standard of living rises in those countries, our high-quality food exports are in even higher demand, and that puts pressure on prices​,” it said. 

Short of introducing our own subsidies, that means we pay more as well. As long as we continue to get premium prices for our highly sought-after goods in those markets, it’s not going to change​.”

The council also blamed economies of scale in a market with a population smaller than Sydney compared to another that is roughly five times the size. It also said that transportation costs due to New Zealand’s remoteness should also be factored in.

Food companies think very carefully before passing on increased costs, but to a large extent they are at the mercy of factors outside their control​,” the FGC continued.

As for the price of fruit and vegetables, they are high because a very wet autumn has restricted growth and destroyed some crops, leading to shortages​.”

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, Oceania

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