Caraway Allergy Test
Latin name: Carum carvi
Common names: Caraway seeds
Caraway is a spice which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
Caraway Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Caraway is originally native to Central Europe and Asia, although today it is widely cultivated, with the majority of production taking place in the Netherlands, Eastern Europe and Germany, and also North Africa, particularly Egypt. The largest exporter of caraway is Finland, which provides just under 30% of the world’s crop.
The fruit, which is incorrectly referred to as a seed in most markets, is crescent shaped and around 2mm long. It has a pungent aroma derived from several essential oils present within the fruit and the flavour is described as similar to anise. The leaves are finely divided and feathery, similar in appearance to those of dill or carrot.
Caraway is widely used as a flavouring in a variety of foods, including bread (particularly rye bread), desserts and casseroles. In Europe it is a main ingredient in certain types of goulash, and also used to produce caraway seed cake.
The Scandinavian alcoholic beverage Akvavit, the Icelandic Brennivin, and several other liqueurs are made with caraway.
It is also used in Hungary to flavour cheeses including bondost, pultost, havarti and Tilsit cheese. In the Middle East, a caraway flavoured dessert called meghli is popular during the month of Ramadan. Caraway is also an ingredient in the North African chili pepper paste harissa.
Caraway root can be prepared and cooked in a similar way to carrots or parsnips, and the leaves are sometimes used as herbs, either in fresh or dried form.
Caraway fruit oil is also used as a fragrance component in soaps, lotions, and perfumes. It is occasionally used as a breath freshener, and it has a long tradition of use in folk medicine.
Caraway Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No allergens present in caraway have yet been characterised.
Caraway Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
An extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the family Apiaceae could be expected, and in fact does occur. Cross reactivity has been reported between caraway, fennel, cumin, coriander and aniseed.
Cross-reactivity among the Apiaceae family has been reported to be the cause of the many positive results obtained with carrot, parsley, anise, fennel and caraway.
In one study, hypersensitivity to caraway occurred in 26% of celery-allergic individuals.
An associated allergy to several spices is quite common, and therefore the term ‘celery-mugwort-spice-syndrome’ has been proposed.
Caraway Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Anecdotal evidence suggests that caraway may induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals; however, few studies have been reported to date; it is possible that the allergy occurs more frequently than has been reported.
Data from France covering around 600 cases of food allergy has shown sensitisation to coriander, caraway, fennel or celery in 32% of children tested using a skin prick, and 23% in adults.
In a patient with occupational rhinoconjunctivitis to aniseed, skin-specific IgE tests showed a positive immediate response to aniseed, asparagus, caraway, coriander, cumin, dill, and fennel extracts.