Consumer Perceptions of Peanuts and Peanut Allergy: The EuroPrevall Results of Focus Groups in Poland

Anna Prusak and Małgorzata Schlegel-Zawadzka*

Consumer Perceptions of Peanuts and Peanut Allergy: The EuroPrevall Results of Focus Groups in Poland.

With no doubt, food allergies represent a growing public health concern worldwide. Although an individual can be allergic to any food, there are several products that are responsible for 90% of all food-allergic reactions, specifically: milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, legumes, fruits and cereals. Peanut allergy raises much concern due to the fact that it is responsible for the majority of severe food allergic reactions–anaphylaxis.

Peanut allergy affects 1-2% of the world’s population, but it varies between countries. Experts have assessed that more than 1% of the North American and British schoolchildren is allergic to peanuts. The highest prevalence is in the US, Canada and the UK (1- 3%) and the lowest in France, Denmark and Israel (0.2-0.7%). Several population-based studies, conducted several years ago, estimated that the prevalence of peanut allergy in developed countries was between 0.6% and 1.0%.7-10 The follow-up studies demonstrated that the prevalence of peanut allergy has increased up to 1.5%,11 indicating that the problem is growing. It raises questions about immunologic, genetic, dietary and environmental aspects that may influence the frequency of peanut allergy.

Many studies attempted to establish a link between peanut allergy prevalence in the populations and their tradition of peanut production, processing and consumption patterns. The majority of these efforts, for obvious reasons, concern the largest exporters of peanuts, notably China.13,14 Except for accidental exposure to products containing peanuts, such relationship should be analyzed at epidemiological rather than at individual level, following the logic that individuals with peanut allergy avoid peanuts, and vice versa, peanut consumers do not suffer from peanut allergy.

Public Health Open J. 2017; 2(1): 11-20. doi: 10.17140/PHOJ-2-115