Peanut Exposure in Unexpected Places
Posted by Shifrah on Monday, August 29, 2011
A question posed in the Science section highlights the fact that those with food allergies must be on the alert at all times – even in situations that don't involve food.

The question is as follows:

"When I observe student teachers in a school auto shop, there is almost always an engine retrofitted to run on biofuels like used peanut oil. Is it safe for students with a severe peanut allergy to be around it or work on it?"

Fortunately, according to Dr. William Reisacher, ear, nose, and throat specialist and director of the Allergy Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital, "The processing of the fuel minimizes or eliminates such a risk." Typical peanut oil used for cooking has all of the peanut protein – the allergenic part of the peanut – filtered out.

However, Dr. Reisacher warns that peanut allergic individuals must be wary of "products that are labeled as organic, cold-pressed, expelled or extruded" because they "may still have enough protein present to cause an allergic reaction in a person who is peanut-allergic."

Back to biofuel, Dr. Reisacher further adds that though passing through an internal combustion engine would most likely degrade any traces of peanut protein that might be present after processing, wearing a barrier mask or respirator would "add an extra layer of safety."

We'd of course recommend the extra layer of safety…

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