Processing and Food Allergies

September 23/Food Weekly Focus -- According to a U.S. study, "Food allergies are on the rise in Western countries. With the food allergen labeling requirements in the U.S. and EU, there is an interest in learning how food processing affects food allergens."

"Numerous foods are processed in different ways at home, in institutional settings and in industry. Depending on the processing method and the food, partial or complete removal of the offending allergen may be possible as illustrated by reduction of peanut allergen in vitro IgE immunoreactivity upon soaking and blanching treatments. When the allergen is discretely located in a food, one may physically separate and remove it from the food. For example, lye peeling has been reported to produce hypoallergenic peach nectar. Protein denaturation and/or hydrolysis during food processing can be used to produce hypoallergenic products. This paper provides a short overview of basic principles of food processing followed by examples of their effects on food allergen stability," wrote S.K. Sathe and colleagues, Florida State University.

The researchers concluded, "Reviewed literature suggests assessment of processing effects on clinically relevant reactivity of food allergens is warranted."

Sathe and colleagues published the results of their research in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research ("Effects of Food Processing on Food Allergens." Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2009;53(8):970-978).

For additional information, contact S.K. Sathe, Florida State University, Dept. of Nutrition Food & Exercise Science, Tallahassee, FL 32306.

From the September 28, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition