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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #289591

Research Project: Primary and Secondary Prevention of Peanut and Tree Nut Allergy

Location: Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research

Title: Reducing food allergy: is there promise for food applications?

item Chung, Si Yin
item Reed, Shawndrika

Submitted to: Current Pharmaceutical Design
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/7/2013
Publication Date: 3/17/2014
Citation: Chung, S., Reed, S.S. 2014. Reducing food allergy: is there promise for food applications? Current Pharmaceutical Design. 20(6):924-930.

Interpretive Summary: Food allergy is on the rise. For this reason, food allergy prevention or reduction has been of interest to researchers. Although advice for allergy prevention mostly is focused on avoidance of certain foods, such a strategy may not always work because consumers are constantly faced with products made with multiple ingredients, or contaminated due to processing using the same machinery (e.g., soy and peanut products produced by the same machine), and as a result, accidental ingestion of hidden allergens and subsequent allergic reactions may occur. The potential severity of reactions in sensitive consumers has led many food manufacturers to introduce warning labeling about possible presence of allergens on their products. This results in the statement of ‘may contain’ in many food products. Possible solutions to this problem and food allergy prevention/reduction may include: (1) development of hypoallergenic food products through physical and chemical methods; (2) enrichment of diets with supplements associated with the enhancement of the immune system, and (3) changes of lifestyle such as eating habits and early exposure instead of avoidance. This review focuses on recent findings in these areas, and discusses the potential of all these methods for prevention of food allergy. The conclusion was that while physical and chemical methods, except for enzymatic hydrolysis, are still in a premature state to be applicable to the production of hypoallergenic food products, methods such as diet supplementation and change of lifestyle may have the potential for food allergy prevention. Investigations are still being carried out to confirm the potential.

Technical Abstract: The incidence of food allergy has been increasing in recent years. Food allergy can be deadly, and strict avoidance of foods containing allergenic proteins is the only effective way to prevent food-induced allergic reaction. This approach poses challenges, because allergens are not always accurately labeled, or are hidden in trace amounts in foods that are cross-contaminated with the allergenic proteins from other foods due to processing with the same machinery. For this reason, accidental ingestion of trace amount of allergenic proteins is common. For children with severe food allergy, this could be life-threatening. Food products with reduced allergenic proteins, if developed, could be beneficial and may raise the threshold of the amount of allergenic proteins required to trigger an allergic reaction. As a result, the number of serious allergic reactions may decrease. Moreover, such less allergenic products may be useful or replace regular products in studies, such as, oral tolerance induction or early exposure experiments, where children with severe peanut allergy are usually excluded due to their severe intolerance. This review focuses on recent findings and progress made in approaches to reduce allergenic proteins in foods. Modifying methods may include, physical and chemical treatments, as well as lifestyle changes and the use of supplements. We discuss the benefits and drawbacks these methods present for production of hypoallergenic food products and food allergy prevention.