Saturday, 7 February 2015

Methylisothiazolinone (MI): problem preservative

Although this blog is concerned with food allergy, food intolerance and coeliac, I am closely involved in the field of skin allergy too - and I've written a lot about a notorious preservative called methylisothiazolinone (MI) in the last couple of years. Here is some short background on it, together with some useful links for those already diagnosed with MI allergy.

In 2013, two dermatological organisations issued warnings about a relatively new 'epidemic' of allergy to MI - a preservative present in wet wipes, skin creams, washing up liquid, sun care, fabric conditioners and many more household cleaners and personal toiletries. I wrote about it for Skins Matter, about a year ago.

A few months ago I wrote an update piece to that. Despite calls for a ban from some quarters, it seems industry has been moving towards only a partial ban (on 'leave on' products - i.e. skin creams) and continuing to permit use in 'rinse off' products at a level of 100 parts per million. At this level, in these types of products, experts believe it is not possible for a consumer to become sensitised to MI. This should, in theory, halt the epidemic of sensitisation. However, those already sensitised will have to continue to scour labels on products such as kitchen cleaners, shampoo and shower gels to avoid the preservative.

It seems those with eczema are more susceptible to sensitivity to MI (and related isothiazolinones, such as methylchloroisothiazolinone - with when combined with MI sometimes goes under the trade name Kathon CG), and as those with eczema are more likely to be atopic, they're also more likely to have food allergies. It's entirely possible that those who experience reactions to skincare products and put them down to food-related ingredients often found there may be experiencing reactions to non-food ingredients - such as fragrances (the most allergenic of which should be declared - e.g. linalool, geraniol) and preservatives such as MI.

If you think you might be one of them, don't self-diagnose. Take yourself to your GP who can, if relevant, refer you for patch testing to identify the true culprit - although that may not always be straightforward or routine. Blogger Sarah at Sugarpuffish recently described her experiences of patch testing (and curiously had a mild positive to MI), and you may find this article on Contact Dermatitis which I wrote some time ago useful too.

Some MI-Free Cosmetics Brands:
Green People - See 'Why don't you use MI ... ?'
Odylique - See 'Methylisothiazolinone and Why We Like the Precautionary Principle'
NATorigin - See their full 'free from' attributes here.

Other useful resources:
Facebook Group: Allergy to Isothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone and Chloroisothiazolinone.
Wikipedia Page: Methylisothiazolinone.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

How far should free from go to create its market?

Should free from food companies and food service providers be actively marketing 'coeliac and gluten sensitivity profile' tests to their consumers?

I ask, for that's what Inspiral appears to be doing here, in offering a series of tests via a laboratory, with a discount of 10% on the normal price of £95 if you quote their name.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Prêt a Mang ... Er?

Last summer Pret launched the 'Mexican Guacamole', made with a gluten-free wrap. It carried a disclaimer: "While the ingredients of this product are gluten-free, it has been made in our kitchens which are not gluten-free environments". Blogger Kevin at Gluten Free by the Sea queried their head office about it, was given basic explanation of hygiene / cross-contamination controls and told: "We can't call it gluten-free because of the risk of cross-contamination".

The Mexican Guacamole wrap appears lately to have been supplanted by a Chicken Harissa, also made with a gluten-free wrap (which I understand is Newburn Bakehouse by Warburton's, incidentally) but the Pret line on it is just the same, as they confirmed in an email to Kevin last month. His full account is worth a look. Read it here.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2014: a year in coeliac, intolerance and allergy

We’ll gloss over my failed prediction from last year’s round-up that low-FODMAP ready meals would be in our supermarkets by the end of 2014 (by end of 2015, definitely ... ) and instead kick-off where I left off - with scientists doing remarkable work.

We heard this year that drugs to help coeliac patients may be only a few years away, and that oral immunotherapy offers a real, promising road forward for peanut allergies. The potential to manipulate gut bacteria to better manage, prevent or even cure allergies and autoimmune continued to be an active area. Then there was the concept of gluten-free 'pre-digested wheat flour', which uses enzyme technology and which we may be hearing much more of in 2015, not to mention the interesting, albeit controversial, goings-on in so-called 'gluten-friendly wheat' too - where using a microwave process wheat is modified and the gluten reduced and its nature altered, so much so that is appears to be no longer 'recognised' by the immune system of coeliacs.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

2015 M&S FreeFrom Launches

Having been so distracted by the whole M&S-branded Kinnerton chocolate saga – if you’ve missed it, catch up with Part 1 here and with Part 2 here – I’ve neglected to tell you about the many good-looking new launches which M&S told me that they had planned for the new year within their Made Without ranges.

So here they are. This is all the info I have, and from what I gathered these are expected to hit shelves around March / April time - although dates can sometimes be changeable when it comes to launches.

Friday, 19 December 2014

FreeFrom Companies: Beware - and play fair

A story that may have passed under the radar of many of us in the UK last month was that of multinational giant Unilever - owner of Hellman’s - issuing legal proceedings against a small US company of egg-free ‘mayo’ on the basis that it was misleading to customers - who they claimed expect any product to be called 'mayo' to have egg in it. 

One month on, and following a wave of support for the small free-from supplier, Unliver has just announced that it is dropping the case. 

It's not the only such story. Closer to home, Oatly is being sued by the Swedish Dairy Association for making milk seem 'unmodern'. As Natural Products Magazine reported recently, one of Oatly's catchphrases 'No milk. No soy. No. Badness' has 'irked' the Swedish dairy industry. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

In the FIC of it

A trip into town to see what was happening #14allergens-wise on the EU FIC front ...

Nothing on display in BHS's restaurant - whatsoever. So I enquired with a lady serving chips, and she referred me to a gentleman I took to be head of kitchen.

"Do you have allergen information about the meals you're serving?" I asked.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Nut another one … two

Further developments regarding the M&S / Kinnerton nut-warning confusion which I blogged about last week.

To recap, M&S Made Without Dairy chocolate - made by Kinnerton - carries a “not suitable for nut allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods” warning.

A further response from a senior source at M&S has confirmed that the chocolate IS manufactured in the nut-free zone at Kinnerton (they have a non-nut-free zone too). So why the warning?