Purpose of review: Food allergy is increasing in prevalence in Western populations, but little is known about it in Asia. The perception is that the prevalence in this region is low, but is likely to increase with the global increase in allergy. Asia is unique because of the many different cultures and eating habits, with the resulting occurrence of unique food allergens. This review describes the epidemiology and clinical features of food allergy, and introduces some of the unusual food allergens in Asia.
Recent findings: Recent studies describing the pattern of anaphylaxis and the role of food triggers show that food is an important cause of severe allergic reactions in Asia. Progress has been made on the characterization of unique food allergens from the region. Peanut and tree nuts are rarely the cause of allergic reactions in Asia. The lack of availability of epinephrine auto-injectors in many countries is an important issue that needs to be addressed.
Summary: The pattern of food allergy in Asia is unique. Unfortunately, data from many parts of Asia are still lacking. Large, well-designed epidemiological studies are needed so that the scale of the problem can be understood, public awareness can be increased and important food allergens in the region can be identified.