Uncommon Allergens: Mango

Since my daughter has oat and sesame allergies (aside from the more “mainstream” peanut and tree nut) and used to have corn and grape on her allergen list I keep meaning to organize some thoughts about the more uncommon allergens. Granted, oats benefit from the issue of gluten or wheat cross contamination but the rise of the “gluten free oat” has muddied the labeling waters for us.

A dear friend wrestles with a mango allergy and since mango is in the same family as the cashew (source), I have learned a lot from her struggles with this pesky ingredient not only in food but in beauty products.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, just a curious food allergy mom so please if you suspect you have an allergy to mango, do see an allergist about your concerns.  I thought people searching for information about mango allergies would find the links I’ve included courtesy of my friend useful.

In South America, for example, mango is readily available and consumed so it makes it onto lists of prevalent allergens (source).  When you search for information about mango allergies, oral allergy syndrome is one that comes up, with some people recommending to those with poison ivy issues that the fruit can still be consumed if it is peeled in a particular way (source).

In “Hypersensitivity manifestations to the fruit mango” from 2011, cross reactivity with other allergens may account for first reactions to mango where there is no prior reaction.  Latex allergic individuals have been reported to in some cases experience a mango allergy.   Also in the same article the geographic distribution of reactions seems to follow areas where consumption of mango is more prevalent, which makes the fact that it is appearing as an ingredient more often here in the United States of note.

Spotted at Trader Joe's - Mango in Cheese
Spotted at Trader Joe’s – Mango in Cheese

In beauty products, mango can carry the name “mangifera indica” or “garcina mangostana.”  Translations of mango are included on the “encyclopedia of life” website.  I have seen mango in everything from lip gloss to hair color and even in a balm that is marketed for relief in the early days of nursing a newborn.  Anything tropically themed may contain mango, such as Tazo’s Passion Tea or other drinks.  We have put together a panel about skin products for the 2014 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (“Skin Deep – How Allergens Affect Your Skin’s Health“) and I’m very keen to learn more in September.  You can search for mango in the cosmetics database to see how it is popping up everywhere.

When a person’s allergen is not in the “top 8” here in the United States they face an uphill battle.  The connection between mango and tree nuts does make me wary but you also don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of finding out what is cross reactive with a given allergen and then avoid that item as well.  Supervised food challenges are the gold standard in allergy testing so stay safe.

I’ll end with a neat story from my friend, she is a teacher and one day at school they served mango in the cafeteria.  Her students later told her they’d taken turns washing their faces and hands before returning to the classroom.  It made me so happy to hear how considerate they had been!

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There are only a few more days to register your support of my friend Libby’s petition regarding ingredient disclosure in prescription medications.  Even if you feel the request is a broad one, a petition like this is meant to start the conversation, not end it, so I encourage you to check it out.

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Updated 7/8/14 to add this great link about cross reactivity on the Kids With Food Allergies page.

2 thoughts on “Uncommon Allergens: Mango

  1. I’m a no fresh mango allergy person. I can’t eat mangos unless they are prepackaged without the peel otherwise I have cold sores all over my mouth. I just don’t eat them any more.

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    1. They sneak fresh mango into a lot these days, even salsas, so it is best to be careful if you’ve had an issue with the peels!

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