Tannin could reduce allergenicity of peanut residues in food

Wednesday, 30 July, 2014

Tannic acid has shown promising results as a scavenger of peanut allergens, meaning that it could be used to reduce or prevent allergic responses when allergic consumers accidentally ingest peanut residues.

Tannic acid, or tannin, has been shown to bind to allergenic protein fragments. Researchers from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) wanted to find out whether mixing tannic acid with peanut allergen proteins would form stable complexes (pellets) that could prevent the release of the allergens into the stomach and gut.

Food technologist Si-Yin Chung and support scientist Shawndrika Reed mixed four different levels of tannic acid in peanut butter extract. The pellets that were formed and collected were each tested in a solution mimicking the human stomach (pH 2) and intestines (pH 8). The solutions were analysed for allergens that might be released from the pellets under those pH conditions.

The researchers found that pellets formed at tannic acid concentrations greater than 0.5 mg/mL of peanut butter extract did not release major peanut allergens in either solution.

“The precise level of tannic acid that is needed to prevent allergic reaction, without altering food flavour or reducing protein levels in the food, still needs to be worked out,” said Chung.

While further testing needs to be done before tannic acid can be used to develop less allergenic peanut products, Chung says the study shows that tannic acid holds promise as a scavenger that binds to allergenic peanut proteins and keeps those proteins from being released in the stomach and gut after ingestion.

For more information about the research, click here.

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