Researcher develops allergy-free peanut

September 17, 2007

The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area/July 25, 2007

N.C. A&T State University food science researchers say they have developed a simple process for making allergen-free peanuts, which could impact millions of peanut-allergy sufferers.

There are about 3 million peanut allergy sufferers in the United States, and between 100 and 150 deaths are attributed to peanut allergies each year. Peanut allergies have become more prevalent in children in recent years, scientists say, though the reasons for that are not well understood.

Officials from A&T were not immediately available to describe how the process works, but in a press release researchers said the new technology resulted in “100 percent inactivation” of peanut allergens in whole roasted kernels.

The inventor of the new process, Mohamed Ahmedna, an associate professor in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, is working on ways to apply the new technology to allergens in other foods as well, the school said. The research was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“We are extremely pleased that we were able to find such a simple solution to a vexing problem that has enormous economic and public health ramifications,” Ahmedna said.

Doug Speight, director of A&T’s Office of Outreach and Technology Transfer, said there has been strong interest from food companies in licensing the technology because in addition to preserving the basic quality and taste of the treated peanuts, the process could even make them easier to process as a food ingredient.

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