There is new hope if you suffer from a peanut allergy. Although peanuts are widely used in food processing because they are rich in fats and protein, they are also one of the eight major food allergens. In a recent study from the Journal of Food Science published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), researchers from Ningbo Institute of Agricultural Sciences in China found that seed germination could reduce the allergen level in peanuts.
No effective clinical treatment has been developed for peanut allergy, and avoiding allergen exposure might appear to be a simplistic approach to reduce this allergy; however, the wide use of peanuts in food processing makes nearly impossible to completely avoid all allergens, and studies have shown that as high as 75% of consumers suffer an allergy from accidental ingestion of peanut protein. Thus, reducing the levels or activity of allergenic proteins in peanuts could significantly protect consumers from this allergy.
Allergenic proteins in peanuts are degraded during seed germination. The researchers found that by altering that natural process by controlling certain environmental factors, peanut allergenicity could be reduced. The study specifically looked at temperature and light effects on Ara h1, a previously identified peanut allergen.
PEs from peanut seeds, including allergenic proteins, are significantly degraded into smaller molecules during a short-term germination. A significant reduction of immunoreactivity of Ara h1, approximately one-third, was noted after 5 to 7 d of germination. Short-term germination could be an easy way to produce hypoallergenic peanut food. Further studies are needed to assess the effects of germination on other major peanut allergens and the clinical relevance of the study. It will be beneficial to convince a definite role of germination in improving food safety.
The authors concluded that short-term germination could be an easy way to improve food safety of peanuts and produce hypoallergenic peanut food. Further studies are needed to assess the effects of germination on other major peanut allergens.
Read the article in the Journal of Food Science here.