Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Intriguing Idea

A scientist at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has developed a process that renders peanuts allergen-free. A bunch of other processes have been developed, too, including a way to get rid of a potential toxic mold that likes to grow on peanuts.

Interesting--allergen-free peanuts. I have lots o'questions, though. First off, there are multiple allergenic proteins in peanuts. Does this get rid of them all?

It looks like food manufacturers are interested in the process, and why not, since they might be able to expand their market. Would this peanut-cleansing (for lack of a better term) process be used by the manufacturers or at the peanut farms? I still think there would be much opportunity for cross-contamination, with the possible extra obstacle of not being able to tell which peanuts are safe and which aren't. As someone on PA.com quipped, is each individual peanut going to have an allergen-free stamp on it?

And don't we already eat too many over-processed foods? Ironically, could it be due to the manufacturing process that people are exposed to more peanut allergens (and in their more allergenic roasted form) in the first place? (I have no proof of this; it's just a thought.)

I was interested to learn that peanuts are the 12th largest crop grown in the US and that it's also an almost $1B industry. I know that Georgia produces most of the peanuts grown in the US. The Georgia Peanut Producers Association has been very cooperative with the peanut allergy community.

I don't know--I have my doubts, but it is an interesting idea. In the meantime, we'll be avoiding ALL peanuts like the plague.

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