Saturday, January 4, 2020

Corn Allergy: A Potentially Life-Threatening Diagnosis

Food Journals are Ineffective in Determining an Allergy to Corn


            July, 2008 through March, 2011:  It felt like everything I consumed was poisoning me.  Since I never had allergies, I thought it was GI-related, so I consulted with a gastroenterologist. After exhausting a myriad of tests (two of which put me in the hospital) and having my gallbladder removed, my gastroenterologist referred me to an allergist. During this time period, I kept a detailed food journal; and the only food product that appeared to cause a reaction was soy (mandatory labeling).

            My Daily Symptoms:  Pounding heart with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), skyrocketing pulse rate, acute abdominal pain and distention, brain fog, depression, anxiety, sense of impending doom, and an overall feeling of utter misery.  Since I didn’t realize these were allergic reactions, I didn’t take an antihistamine. 

            March, 2011:  My allergist tested me using the skin-prick method, and I was diagnosed with adult sudden-onset allergies to soy, all yeast, mushrooms, dairy, pork, salmon, scallops, pecans, dust mites, dogs, and cats. [Note that my allergist did not include corn in his standard panel of testing.]

            March, 2011 through December, 2011:  Even though I eliminated these triggers, I had no relief from my daily reactions.  During this time period, I conducted a drastic food elimination diet; e.g., I only consumed filtered water and ate a baked hamburger patty with Morton’s iodized salt (severe reaction).  On the last day of my food elimination diet, I only drank filtered water and ate a baked hamburger patty without salt.  This was the first time in 3 ½ years that I had no allergic reaction.  So I realized it was the salt!  But could I really be allergic to salt?  Morton’s Salt Company explained to me that iodized salt contains corn-derived dextrose. 

            December, 2011:  I requested that my allergist test me for a suspected allergy to corn, which was positive.  So I thought my reactions would finally cease if I deleted corn from my diet:  corn kernels and iodized salt.  Wrong!!

            [December, 2017:  I was also diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy to petroleum/petrolatum and to clavulanic acid (found in most antibiotics).]

Corn and corn-derived ingredients are ubiquitous, and corn is EXEMPT from FDA labeling requirements: 

            Although my allergy to corn was now confirmed, I continued to suffer severe allergic reactions to nearly everything I consumed.  My allergist and primary care physician admitted they were not familiar with the complexities associated with navigating an allergy to corn,  so I realized that I would have to conduct my own research.  This is when the stark realization hit me that my allergen is not only ubiquitous, but is EXEMPT from FDA labeling requirements.
            After drinking Mott’s and Ocean Spray 100%-advertised “pure” fruit juices, my reactions were swift and severe.  Both companies confirmed that these “pure” fruit juices contained corn-derived ascorbic acid. Who would have thought that corn is in fruit juice?

            I suffered another severe reaction after consuming Quaker 100% Oats (not allergic to oats).  This is when I learned about the dangers of cross-contact with corn, and Quaker issued a statement that anyone with an allergy to corn should avoid consuming their products due to the high probability of corn cross-contact through the many stages of shipping, processing, packaging, and handling.

            After suffering an allergic reaction to OTC vitamins, I soon discovered that most prescription drugs and vitamins contain corn (used as a common filler). [1]   

            I also continued to suffer allergic reactions to fresh meat, poultry, seafood, fruit, and produce.  This is when I discovered that these products are treated with government-mandated corn-derived antimicrobial chemical washes.  So now I realized that I would have to purchase organic-only fresh food products. However, I was still reacting to some organic foods.  Again, I discovered that corn cross-contact remained an issue even with organic foods. In an effort to keep myself safe, all organic fresh food products are soaked and washed in a bath of cold filtered water (some tap water contains corn due to corn-derived purification chemicals), [2] Bragg’s apple cider vinegar (white vinegar in the United States is derived primarily from corn)[3] and baking soda.



            Due to my allergy to corn, it soon became apparent that before consuming any commercially-manufactured food product, I would have to contact manufacturers directly to inquire if a product contains corn-derived ingredients.  Typical replies from manufacturers include:

            1. “Corn is exempt from FDA labeling requirements.”  I then agreed with their statement indicating this was the reason for my inquiry due to my allergy to corn.
            2. “Our formulations are “proprietary;” therefore, we cannot disclose this information.”

            For the safety of corn-allergic consumers, it should be mandated that manufacturers must disclose, upon request, if their products contain corn-derived ingredients.

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI):

            Since I was now responsible for conducting my own research to guide me in navigating my allergy to corn, I referenced the AAAAI “Ask the Expert” and the ACAAI “Ask the Allergist” articles.  Based on the articles referenced on these websites, it was clear that many medical professionals also rely on their expert opinions.  Unfortunately, I soon realized that many medical professionals relied on these “expert” opinions without questioning the validity of their claims.

            After I read the following declaration by Phil Lieberman, MD, related to consuming corn oil, I conducted an oral challenge of Mazola corn oil, and suffered a severe allergic reaction. [4,7]  Thankfully, the AAAAI immediately removed this article at my request, and I personally contacted Dr. Lieberman with the results of my oral challenge to corn oil.

            ". . . the issue is complex because some products, such as corn oils, are labeled as having corn, but actually do not contain corn allergen."
“Avoidance of Corn Allergen," AAAAI, Ask the Expert, 2012

            After I read the following declaration on the ACAAI’s website regarding cornstarch and corn syrup, I conducted an oral challenge of Argo cornstarch, and suffered a severe allergic reaction. [5-8]  A year after mailing the ACAAI a certified letter, they finally redacted their claim regarding cornstarch; however, we continue to appeal to them to redact their equally-false statement regarding corn syrup.

             “Most corn-derived products, like cornstarch and high-fructose corn syrup, do not contain corn protein. If you have a corn allergy, you do not need to avoid these products.”

Hospital Care with an Allergy to Corn:

            Since the only guaranteed corn-free product on hospital premises is straight saline-only IV fluid, I realized that I would be required to supply my own previously-prepared corn-free foods, fluids, and medications while hospitalized.  What would happen if my hospital admission were due to an emergency?

            Due to numerous reports in our corn allergy support groups of nearly 12K members [9] that hospital personnel continue to prescribe medications containing corn-derived ingredients, and continue to administer dextrose IV fluids in direct violation of the contraindication warning on the package insert, [10,11] it took me three years to forward this critical corn allergy documentation to the majority of our nation’s hospitals, colleges of medicine, and colleges of pharmacy. [12-15]  However, we continue to receive reports that medical personnel remain oblivious to the dangers of navigating an allergy to corn.      

            Therefore, an allergy to corn should be considered a potentially life-threatening diagnosis; since hospitals remain ill-equipped to treat/nourish corn-allergic patients, and since corn is considered a “major allergen” in many published corn allergy studies. [16] In addition, it remains a daily struggle for survival for corn-allergic consumers in their efforts to source corn-free foods, fluids, and medications due to the fact that corn is ubiquitous and is EXEMPT from FDA labeling requirements. [17,18]  

Diane H., Corn Allergy Advocate
Corn Allergy Advocacy/Resources
Twitter:  @CornAllergy911


[1] BCPharmacists, "Warning: corn-related allergens . . ."
[2] "A mother's desperate struggle to find safe water for her corn-allergic infant son."
[3] "Vinegar is an aqueous solution of acetic acid and trace chemicals that may include flavorings. .... Apple cider vinegar is made from cider or apple must, and has a ... or sukang basi), although it also is produced in France and the United States. .... regions, because of its low cost, is barley malt, or in the United States, corn."
[4] Oral Challenge of Mazola Corn Oil to Test Hypothesis Presented by Dr. Phil Lieberman
[Conclusion:  If you allergic/intolerant to corn, do not consume corn oil.  I suffered a significant allergic reaction as a result of this oral challenge.]
[5] Argo Cornstarch Oral Challenge to Test Hypothesis Presented by the ACAAI
 [Conclusion: If you are allergic to corn, do not consume cornstarch. I suffered a significant allergic reaction as a result of this oral challenge.]
[6] My March 27, 2018, Certified Letter to the ACAAI  Re: Cornstarch and Corn Syrup
[7] Removing a Food Protein Does Not Guarantee an Allergen Hypoallergenic
[8] Petition to Demand that the ACAAI Remove False Statement Re: Cornstarch/High Fructose Corn Syrup
[9] December, 2019, Month-End Corn Allergy Statistics: 878.9% Increase in 78 Months
[12] United States Hospitals/Health Systems Contacted Re: Protocol for Treating Corn-Allergic Patients
[13] Colleges of Medicine Contacted Re: Protocol for Treating Corn-Allergic Patients
[14] Colleges of Pharmacy Contacted Re: Protocol for Treating Corn-Allergic Patients
[15] “Corn Products and Derivatives List,” Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), 6/6/17
[16] Published Corn Allergy Studies/Statistics  (“. . . Maize major allergen . . .”)

Additional References/Resources:

There are many online corn allergy support groups, and I would personally recommend the Corn Allergy Friendly Group.

Corn Allergy For Newbies

"Corn: It's Everything," Iowa Corn


My March 5, 2020, Email to the FDA Re: Dextrose (Corn Sugar), Code of Federal Regulation 21CFR184.1857, vs. Glucose (Blood Sugar)

Corn Allergy References, Studies, Statistics, & Petitions
(Includes my submission to The Joint Commission, Congress, FDA, & U.S. Dept. of Health requesting emergency mandate that hospitals stock corn-free foods, liquids, & drugs.)

Update April 15, 2020
This blog post has been forwarded to all Senators of the 116th Congress, in addition to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

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