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Peanut processing may affect allergic reactions

News Date  March 6, 2013
Approximately 7 million Americans have food allergies. Allergic reactions to foods are responsible for up to 200 deaths each year in the US. Reports indicate that peanut allergies cause most of the annual emergency department admissions from food allergies and approximately 63% to 67% of deaths caused by anaphylaxis. According to another study, the most obvious rise in food allergy referrals has been seen in the case of peanut and nut allergy. This observation might be due to the large increase in the use of peanut products at an early age and heightened awareness of food allergies in the past decade.

Thermal processing might play an important role in enhancing the allergenic properties of peanuts. Not only has it previously been shown to affect the structural and allergic properties of peanut proteins but also, the first time, the functional characteristics of an allergen. These structural and functional alterations are likely to influence the allergenicity of peanuts. Thermal processing such as roasting, curing, and various types of cooking can cause multiple nonenzymatic, biochemical reactions to occur in food. (1)

(1) “The major peanut allergen, Ara h 2, functions as a trypsin inhibitor, and roasting enhances this function” - J Allergy Clin Immunol, Volume 112, Number 1

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