Beautiful flowers, Lupins may well be, and quite common in most British gardens, recognisable by their tall, elegant stems, tiny clustered and tightly curled flowers.
However, possibly even surprisingly, they are related to the legume family, (peanuts, peas, lentils and beans). The seeds from some types of lupin can be used in foods such as seeded bread and can also be ground to make lupin flour, which is used sometimes in foods such as pastries, especially in the U.S.A. and Europe.
In the UK, Lupin allergy is still relatively rare, however, in the rest of Europe Lupin Flour is used widely in the baking of bread, cakes and pastries. Subsequently, cases of Lupin allergy in mainland Europe are more widely recognised than currently in the UK. Lupin allergy can cause very severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, like nut allergies. At present, there have been extremely few confirmed reports of lupin allergy in the UK, however since its the relationship with the legume family there is a risk that people who react to Lupin may also react to peanuts, peas and vice versa.
Food labelling rules require pre-packed food sold in the UK or the rest of the European Union (EU) to show clearly on the label if it contains lupin and/or if one of its ingredients contain it.
Because lupin flour is used more widely in mainland Europe, people who are allergic to peanuts or lupin should be especially careful when travelling and visiting European countries or eating baked products brought back from there.
In order to find out if you have an allergy to Lupin, the only real way of finding out for is by an elimination diet. Eliminate first, by cutting out the food you suspect of causing the reaction, that contains Lupin, for a two months, then, try a small amount again. To test it, try rubbing a small amount on your lip or skin to see if this causes a reaction. If you are concerned you could have a seriously life threatening allergy you should ask your doctor to refer you for skin prick tests.
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