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Food Intolerance (or non-allergic food hypersensitivity) is a detrimental reaction, often delayed, to a food, beverage, food additive, or compound found in foods that produces symptoms in one or more body organs and systems, but it is not a true food allergy. A true food allergy requires the presence of immune mechanisms (as for instance Immunoglobin E – igE antibodies) against the food, and food intolerance does not.
Food intolerances can be classified according to their mechanism. Intolerance can result from the absence of specific chemicals or enzymes needed to digest a food substance, as in hereditary fructose intolerance. It may be a result of an abnormality in the body's ability to absorb nutrients, as occurs in fructose malabsorption. Food intolerance reactions can occur to naturally occurring chemicals in foods, as in salicylate sensitivity. Drugs sourced from plants, such as aspirin, can also cause these kinds of reactions. Finally, it may be the result of non-IgE-mediated immune responses.
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Scope and Importance:
Allergy and intolerance to foods are significant health issues in the UK and internationally. Around 1 to 2% of adults and 5 to 8% of children in the UK have a food allergy, with up to 1 in 55 children having a peanut allergy. An estimated 1 in 100 people have coeliac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten proteins found in a number of cereals. In addition, some people need to avoid certain foods because of a food intolerance, which differs from food allergy because it does not generally involve the immune system.
The Food Allergy and Intolerance Research Programme aims to investigate the causes and mechanisms underlying food allergy and intolerance. The programme is currently funding research under a number of key themes of work (as outlined below). • Development of management thresholds for allergenic foods • Route and timing of exposure to food allergens in early life • Immunological aspects of food allergy • Prevalence and characteristics of food allergy and intolerance • Food allergen labelling and consumer choice research • Evaluation of FSA allergy guidance • More about the allergy research programme
Major aims include facilitating the development of allergen management thresholds for use by industry and regulators and identifying risk factors associated with the development of food allergy so that appropriate information can be provided for consumers. In addition the programme also focuses on understanding consumer attitudes to food allergy and intolerance and its labelling. The United States occupies the major share of the overall food allergy and intolerance products market due to rising incidences of food allergy by about 18%, over the last few years. This fact has helped the region to turn out to be the most attractive market for the intolerance foods market. In U.S., about 34.5 million to 45 million people are allergic to lactose. Also, some percent of Native Americans and African Americans are also allergic to lactose. This makes the U.S. the world’s largest market for gluten-free products.
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This page was last updated on January 17, 2021