New processing method reduces peanut allergenicity

05/31/05

ATLANTA June 6, 2005 -- A new study has found that the allergenicity of peanut products could be significantly reduced by a special fermentation process. Researchers from North Carolina A&T University report their findings today at the 105th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

"Due to the wide use of peanuts in food products such as cookies, snacks and even soups there is a need to inactivate peanut allergens to protect consumers from a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction," says Jianmei Yu, a researcher on the study.

In the United States, the most significant rise in food allergies has been attributed to peanuts and other nuts. The allergenicity of peanuts is due to the presence of specific types of proteins including Ara h1 and Ara h2. Yu and her colleagues discovered during a study of various processing methods on the allergenicity of peanuts that one fermentation method reduced the detectable level of major allergenic proteins like Ara h1 and Ara h2 by as much as 70 percent without causing any adverse effects on sensory quality of the final product.

"It is hoped that careful control of the process conditions may enable complete modification of allergenic proteins into non-allergenic and readily soluble proteins," says Yu. "This finding is good news to individuals who are allergic to peanuts and important not only to the peanut industry but also to the food industry in general, where peanuts are used as an ingredient in food product development and food preparation."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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