Food allergy is a major handicap to millions of people around the world. There are eight established allergy foods which include tree nuts like pecan, walnut, pistachio and coconut, peanuts, soybean, wheat, maize, milk, some fruits, vegetables and spices. Food allergy is supposed to be an adverse immune response to specific proteins present in these foods. The Immunoglobulin (IgE) sends white blood cells as soon as the allergic food is consumed mistaking it for an invader resulting in symptoms like dermatitis, gastrointestinal and respiratory stress conditions including anaphylactic conditions that can be fatal, if not attended to immediately. There are many studies aimed at ameliorating or reducing the severity of the effects of allergic foods in the past as well as at present though no satisfactory way has been found so far to deal with this serious human handicap and give relief to affected persons. A recent report from USA claims that the allergic effect of peanut can be reduced up to 80% which is a remarkable achievement. Read further on this ground breaking development below.
"The technique involves delivering pulses of ultraviolet light using a system that consists of two lamps filled with xenon, two cooling blowers, one treatment chamber with a conveyor belt, and a control module. The bursts of light reduce the allergenic potential of the major peanut proteins Ara h1-h3, so that human antibodies don't recognize them as allergens. So far he has been able to remove 80 percent of peanut allergens from whole peanuts, with the ultimate goal to remove 99.9 percent (Yang says removing 100 percent of peanut allergens would run the risk of destroying a peanut's texture, color, flavor and nutrition). He adds that if the amount of allergenic protein per peanut can be cut from 150 mg to 1.5 mg, they would be safe for 95 percent of people with peanut allergies to eat. "This process proves that pulsed light can inactivate the peanut allergenic proteins and indicates that pulsed light has a great potential in peanut allergen mitigation,"
Past research work has identified a particular protein fraction called Ara h1-h3 in the peanut as the culprit responsible for the allergic symptoms seen in many people and it is impossible to separate this protein through any known technique without destroying the eating characteristics of the nut. The above group of scientists did a remarkable job to inactivate this protein or modify it in such a way that the immune response elicited in the body was not so severe. If this work is pursued further it should be possible to reduce the allergic potential to less than 5% which is not considered so dangerous. Ideally Ara h1-h3 must be completely inactivated if absolute safety is to be achieved but whether this is ever possible remains to be seen.