One Person's Food is Another's Poison: Food Allergy in the Twentieth Century

Ever since physicians began investigating allergy in the early twentieth century, food allergy has been controversial. Allergists have debated the incidence of food allergy, what symptoms it can cause, why it occurs and even its definition. Consequently, the meaning of food allergy, for patients, physicians and the public, has changed throughout the century. Dr Matthew Smith worked on a 3-year Wellcome Trust-funded project on the history of food allergy, comparing experiences and understandings of food allergy in the United States, Canada and Britain.

Matthew's previous research explored the history of hyperactivity in the United States and, especially, the history of the Feingold diet, a treatment regimen that advocated removing food additives from the diets of hyperactive children. This project was recently awarded the Pressman-Burroughs Wellcome Award by the American Academy for the History of Medicine.