An agricultural researcher at North Carolina A&T State University, in the United States, has developed a simple process to inactivate allergens in peanuts, rendering them entirely innocuous to people who suffer from peanut allergy.
The process is simple and effective, allowing scientists to remove 100% of allergens. Tests conducted on human serums from individuals with severe peanut allergies have confirmed the complete inactivation of allergens. Additionally, not only does this process not affect the taste and quality of the treated peanuts, it also makes them easier to process for use as a food ingredient.
Peanut and nut allergies are the most severe of all food allergies because they provoke anaphylactic shocks. An anaphylactic shock is an extreme and potentially deadly reaction of the immune system. Furthermore, cases of peanut allergies are on the rise in industrialized countries for reasons that remain unknown. According to one study, peanut allergy cases in children doubled between 1997 and 2002 in the United States. In Canada, it is estimated that 8% of children suffer from it.
Living with a food allergy, like an allergy to peanuts, can be very stressful because sufferers must avoid all contact with traces of the culprit food. Peanut allergies are an everyday headache for parents with allergic children, and increasingly so for schools. In the province of Quebec, most primary schools have a policy forbidding all foods that could potentially contain peanuts and all other nuts. The food industry has also been turned topsy-turvy as food processing companies and restaurants must track, keep records, and label all foods that could contain traces of peanuts or peanut dust.
The discovery of this process could revolutionize the peanut industry and bring back this delicious legume to our diets. This is excellent news, as peanuts are considered an almost complete food. Peanuts are a nutritious “healthy” food, rich in proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
It has been years since you last had toasts with peanut butter for breakfast? Perhaps you might be able to start enjoying them again very soon! Allergen-free peanuts, imagine that!