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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research » Research » Research Project #425874

Research Project: Characterization and Attenuation of Cashew Nut Allergens through Improved Detection, Cultivar Selection, and Processing

Location: Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research

Project Number: 6054-43440-046-10-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 1, 2014
End Date: Mar 31, 2019

There are 3 objectives for this cooperative research project with the overall goal of reducing the level and/or potency of cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale) allergens for consumers. The three objectives include the following: 1) identify and characterize cashew tree cultivars with reduced cashew nut allergen levels, 2) develop improved reagents and methods for the detection of cashew allergens, and 3) design, test, and validate cashew processing steps for the attenuation of cashew allergens.

Scientist will examine cashew tree cultivars to identify cultivars with reduced or absent cashew nut allergens, as well as characterize the accumulation of cashew nut allergens in the developing cashew nut. Cashew nuts from available cultivars will be assessed using gel electrophoresis, mass-spectrometry, and immuno-assay methods to quantify cashew nut allergen content. Samples from various cultivars will also be sampled and evaluated using the same methods to determine the timing of cashew allergen accumulation during nut development. Scientist plan to develop novel molecular recognition elements for the detection of cashew nut allergens using molecular biology techniques. Scientist plan to evaluate several possible methods to generate these novel reagents including antibody development, phage display, systematic ligand evolution, and micro-imprinted polymers. Physical (i.e. autoclaving), mechanical (i.e. extrusion), chemical, and enzymatic processing methods will be tested for their capacity to attenuate cashew allergens. Processing methods will be used alone or in combination. Cashew nut allergens potency will be evaluated post-processing using molecular, immunological, and cellular methods.