With food allergies soaring to new heights, innovators and researchers are rising to meet the challenge. A surge of entrepreneurial activity in the food allergy space has brought much-needed support and awareness to this long-overlooked and growing community.
In this post, we’ve compiled a list of companies and products that are working to build a better food allergy future—and the more tools we have in our toolboxes, the better that future will be!
We also added 🌟 next to the names of companies started by women, because we’re all about supporting our fellow female founders!
EDUCATION & AWARENESSFood Allergy Research & Education (FARE)
There are lots of great resources out there today on food allergies, but FARE is one of the oldest and most trusted. They have a longstanding legacy of supporting food allergy awareness and education dating back to the 1990s. As the largest food allergy non-profit, their roots run deep, and their vast network has helped bring food allergy awareness mainstream. FARE also offers great resources for new patients with materials like their food allergy field guide.
Other great resources include: AAAAI, ACAAI, AAFA, E.A.T, and Allergic Living.
PREVENTIONIn 2015, one study (LEAP) turned everything we thought we knew about food allergies on its head. Its findings showed that infants at high-risk of developing a peanut allergy may lower their risk by consuming peanut-containing snacks early in life and consistently.
Suddenly, the advice of allergen avoidance at an early age was tossed out, and clinicians started recommending that parents introduce small amounts of common allergens during infancy (4-11 months) to help prevent food allergies.
In response to this study, several start-ups have emerged offering ways of incorporating common allergens into infant diets. We recently featured one of these companies: Ready, Set, Food!. In the piece, we interview Chief Allergist Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, who answers the common questions she hears from parents about the product category.
🌟Ready, Set, Food!
A blend of egg, peanut, and milk in one packet that you add to breast milk, baby formula, or food.
Daily packets of peanut powder and oat flake blend that mix into baby food.
Squeeze fruit packets for the top eight most common food allergens with different flavors (e.g., mango & soy, apple & peanut).
A selection of allergen powders (peanut, tree nut, and egg) to mix into baby foods.
Peanut flour mixed with vitamins in daily packets.
Line of baby food mix-in powders, puffs, and crackers to introduce all of the most common food allergens.
POST-DIAGNOSIS (DESENSITIZATION/ORAL IMMUNOTHERAPY)We’ve written before about oral immunotherapy (OIT). OIT is an allergist-administered process that involves reintroducing the immune system to the allergenic food in gradually increasing amounts over time with the goal of eventual tolerance. We happen to be fortunate enough to have an in-house expert—our CMO, Meg, completed OIT with her food-allergic daughter a couple years ago for peanuts and several tree nuts. She shared her thoughts and experiences in this post.
Outside of going to your allergist for OIT, there are multiple therapeutics on the horizon that may offer desensitization alternatives (many of which still require an allergist for administration).
There are trillions of bacteria in the human body that are critical for its protection. With a focus on the microbiome, their research looks at developing new therapies to protect against, treat, and enhance the body’s ability to tolerate foreign substances (including food allergens!)
DBV Technologies (Viaskin)
This is a new class of immunotherapy that uses a skin patch—you may have heard this referred to as the “peanut patch.” Viaskin peanut is in Phase III clinical trials, milk is in Phase I/II, and egg is in preclinical development.
Aimmune Therapeutics (Palforzia)
We wrote about Palforzia in our last post. This recently FDA-approved drug is essentially peanut powder in pill form. The purpose of the pill is to reduce the severity of allergic reactions (including anaphylaxis) by ingesting daily micro doses of peanut powder.
TREATMENTThe only life-saving medication for treating allergic reactions is epinephrine, although antihistamines can help.
Below is a list of all the epi players. You can also find more information about epinephrine options, including generic versions here (FARE), and here (Spokin).
The big distinguishers with this device are the smaller trapezoidal shape and a voice prompt that talks you through the injection, which can be useful for kids and parents.
Even if you don’t know much about food allergies, you’ve probably heard of the Epi-Pen. They are the oldest epinephrine brand on the market—available since 1987!
This device is very similar to the Epi-Pen with regards to design and method of delivery. The main difference is price—Adrenaclick is typically less expensive. We found this great article comparing the two, if interested.
This device touts a thinner needle than most available epinephrine devices, and a smaller size (designed to better fit into a pocket or purse).
We wrote about them in this recent post. Their epinephrine auto-injector is designed to be smaller, more durable, and have a longer shelf life. Their device is not yet available.
In 2016 there were murmurings about researchers developing a pill form of epinephrine, (Epi-Pill), but we haven’t seen any recent product updates.
MANAGEMENTWe’re featuring all female founders for this one! This category is all about improving the quality of life for the food allergy community and preventing allergic reactions.
🌟Allergy Amulet (us!)
If you’re reading this posting, you probably know a bit about us already 😀. Our mission is to help you take the worry off your plate by quickly checking your food at the table before you take a bite. Every 3 minutes a food allergy sends someone to the ER—that’s a statistic we want to change. Our device will offer wearable and non-wearable options, and will include features like an emergency alert system.
Like us, Nima is working to bring peace of mind to mealtime. They likewise test your foods at the table for common allergenic ingredients. We use different technologies, and have different designs, but both of our products help improve the quality of life for the food allergy community—which is what matters! They currently offer gluten and peanut sensors.
If you haven’t heard of Spokin yet, you are missing out. This app has become the go-to resource for finding allergy-friendly products, restaurant reviews, and travel tips. True to their tagline, they make managing food allergies WAY easier. And their content is top-notch (we here at Allergy Amulet HQ sometimes get content envy 🤣). For example, they put together this GREAT list of allergy-friendly summer camps for your kiddos.
Other great resources include: SnackSafely and AllergyEats.
- Abi and The Allergy Amulet Team
* The Co-Founder & CEO of Windgap Medical is a minority investor in Allergy Amulet.