One step closer to non-allergenic peanut products

Thursday, 02 October, 2014

A University of Florida scientist is one step closer to creating non-allergenic peanut products. Wade Yang has managed to remove 80% of peanut allergens in whole peanuts.

Yang, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition, says if he can cut the allergens from 150 mg of protein per peanut to less than 1.5 mg, these products would be safe to eat for 95% of people with peanut allergies.

He says the challenge he faces is eliminating the peanut allergens without destroying the peanuts’ texture, colour, flavour and nutrition. He is using novel methods such as pulsed light to attain a reduced allergen level that will protect most peanut allergy sufferers. Yang hopes to eventually conduct clinical trials on animals and humans.

By using a pulsating light system comprising two lamps filled with xenon, two cooling blowers, one treatment chamber with a conveyor belt and a control module, Yang directed concentrated bursts of light that modify the peanut’s allergenic proteins.

Normally, human antibodies would recognise these proteins as allergens and release histamines, creating allergy symptoms. Yang’s treated proteins are not recognised as allergens by antibodies, averting an allergic reaction occurring.

Yang has used his technique on peanut extract and is now testing it on whole peanuts. In his 2012 study, he removed up to 90% of the allergic potential from peanut protein extracts.

“This process proves that pulsed light can inactivate the peanut allergenic proteins and indicates that pulsed light has a great potential in peanut allergen mitigation,” Yang said.

Yang’s study was published online in the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology.

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