An article published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology finds that it is possible for people to have allergic reactions to antibiotic residues in food.

farm worker spraying pesticidesShare on Pinterest
The use of antibiotics in agriculture is banned in some European countries, but it is still allowed in the US and Canada.

In the piece, the authors study the case of a 10-year-old girl who had an anaphylactic reaction from eating blueberry pie.

Although the girl was known to be allergic to penicillin and cow’s milk – and also had asthma and seasonal allergies – she was not known to be allergic to any ingredients in the pie.

Both the girl and a sample of the pie were tested, with the authors of the article eventually concluding that what had provoked her severe reaction were blueberries contaminated with streptomycin – an antibiotic that is also used as a pesticide.

The authors say that this – to their knowledge – is the first report of an allergic reaction to fruits treated with antibiotic pesticides used to control the growth of bacteria, fungi and algae.

The use of antibiotics in agriculture is banned in some European countries, but it is still allowed in the US and Canada.

Dr. James Sublett, president elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says:

This is a very rare allergic reaction. Nevertheless, it’s something allergists need to be aware of and that emergency room personnel may need to know about in order to help determine where anaphylactic reactions may arise. Anyone who is at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction should always carry epinephrine. They also need to know how to use their epinephrine in an emergency situation.”

In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assembled a report on the risks of using of streptomycin as a pesticide.

The report mentions that, in the first 30 years of its use, streptomycin was frequently used to treat pregnant women, but exposure to the drug was found to be associated with hearing loss or inner ear problems in the child.

However, in these cases, the mothers were receiving oral doses of the antibiotic that were much higher than the limits for chronic dietary exposure.

The EPA concluded “with reasonable certainty that combined residues of streptomycin from food, drinking water and residential exposures will not result in an aggregate risk of concern to any population subgroup.”

Recently, Medical News Today reported on a new study that found children who live in inner-city areas are more susceptible to food allergies.

Previously, studies had shown that children in urban environments are more prone to asthma and environmental allergies.

This new study demonstrated that 55% of the children in the study – who were based in Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, New York, NY, or St. Louis, MO – were sensitive to milk, eggs or peanuts, and nearly 10% of them met the criteria for a “full-blown food allergy.”