Speaker: Dr Matthew Smith (University of Strathclyde)

How were bizarre reactions to food described before the coining of the term ‘allergy’ in 1906? Symptoms reminiscent of food allergy have been observed since Ancient Greece and Rome, with Lucretius stating that one person’s food could be another’s poison. Many physicians were convinced that reactions to food were responsible for symptoms ranging from asthma to migraine. At the root of debates about food allergy were questions about the value of patient testimony and the difficulty in proving the link between food and chronic reactions, issues that remain to this day.