Nut allergy test could have life-saving results

A Bearsden-based company has developed a potentailly life-saving test which can detect even the smallest amount of nuts in food.

R-Biopharm Rhône, which is based in the West of Scotland Science Park, has developed tests which can trace almond and peanut contamination in spices.

The development is vitally important for nut allergy sufferers, who are at risk of abdominal pain, anaphylactic shock and even death if a food they eat is unwittingly contaminated.

The issue came up earlier this month when it was discovered that undeclared nuts were present in some dishes containing cumin and paprika after a failure of the cumin harvest in India.

This led to fears that peanuts and almonds are either being used as a substitute to save money, or that there has simply been an accidental contamination at some point during the harvest, storage or production process.

Simon Bevis, managing director of R-Biopharm Rhône, said: “Once again the integrity of the food which consumers are being offered is in question, and the need for standards on which consumers can rely is reinforced.

“Food producers and test laboratories need reliable analytical methods for detection and quantification of foreign elements and R-Biopharm’s test kits have been proven to provide the answers.

“These tests, carried out in controlled circumstances, have the ability to help safeguard public health and will allow consumers to have greater confidence in products which they are eating on a regular basis.”

R-Biopharm was at the forefront of the horse meat scandal of 2013.

MP Jo Swinson, who is allergic to nuts and had to be rushed to A&E after inadvertently eating them two years ago, said: “It’s wonderful that a local company has created a test that could save lives. Innovation like this is a boost for the economy, and has huge health benefits.

“Anyone with a nut allergy knows they aren’t always easy to avoid. Severe allergic reactions are terrifying and can be fatal.

“Luckily, with the right treatment you can recover quickly

“I was immensely grateful for the excellent care I had at the Southern General for an anaphylactic attack.”