AchooAllergy.com Blog

Peanut Allergy


Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, August 21, 2014
Tree nut and peanut allergies are some of the most common as well as some of the most commonly discussed food allergies. Without fail, every year we hear at least a handful of stories about those who are severely allergic coming in contact with and ultimately dying from food allergies. The standard way most deal with food allergies is with allergy shots (or another type of desensitization procedure) or strict avoidance. Yet neither is fullproof. A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are approaching this problem by not changing the person dealing with allergies but instead by changing the food.

Allergy-Free Cashews? Maybe!Allergy-free peanuts? While it may seem a bit farfetched, this is just what they are working on. Started with a cashew extract (oil), researchers are treating the proteins found in the oil with heat and sodium sulfite. You may recognize sodium sulfite, as it's a preservative commonly found in a variety of foods. What this process does is change the molecular look of reaction-causing protein in the cashew, making it more difficult for immunoglobin (IgE - the antibody that kicks off your body's response, aka, allergic reaction) to recognize and bind with the protein.

Test results showed that when mixing unmodified and modified cashew proteins with the IgE of a nut allergic person, 50% fewer of the IgE molecules bonded with the altered proteins. This is important for a few reasons. Even though this isn't the first experiment to attempt this, it is the first that uses a compound generally regarded as safe (GRAS) to disrupt the protein structure of the allergen. It is also important because unlike other treatments, it is aimed at treating the food, not the person. Lastly, its success shows the potential for reducing or possibly even eliminating the binding of IgE to food allergens, the root of the allergic response.

For now results show a allergy-reduced nut, which isn't as helpful a non-allergenic one. However, these results at least point towards the possibility of this as a solution. What's up next for researchers? Modifying whole cashews then ensuring the cashews still taste they way they should! Until then, avoidance remains the best option for most dealing with severe food allergies.

To read the full abstract of the research.

For more
information on food allergies.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by R. Power on Friday, May 23, 2014
Once in a while our customer service department receives calls asking what we suggest for traveling with allergies, most often, peanut allergies. As of now there is not much we can say aside from informing your airline of your allergies, wearing a mask and asking your doctor for any additional medical advice. But now we can tell our curious callers to fly with Swiss! Swiss Airlines has proudly earned ECARF (European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation) quality seal of approval in becoming the first allergy-minded airline on the globe!

Switzerland has a history of being a very innovative and efficient country, so it doesn’t surprise me that they would make such an impression with the airline industry as they have done with chocolate, banks and pharmaceuticals.

Here’s what their allergy-minded airline includes to minimize the presence of allergens within the cabin and lounge areas:
  • High efficiency air conditioning to filter out pollen, pet hair and dander and any airborne particulates on board.
  • Removal of air fresheners for flyers with chemical sensitivities.
  • Selection and use of hypoallergenic fabric for upholstered items.
  • In the lavatories they provide soap friendly for those with sensitive skin.
  • Your meal, snack and drink selections are free of glucose, lactose and a variety of other common allergens.
  • Swiss Airline cabin crew members are trained to respond, and are equipped with the histamine tablets in the case of allergic reactions and emergencies.
I think this is a great idea for an airline to specialize a plane for allergy prone travelers. Perhaps this will start a trend for other airlines, especially here in the U.S. If not, well, then twist my arm, I guess I'll have to book a flight to Switzerland to fly allergy-free. On second thought, how would I bring back my precious Swiss chocolate covered cheese snacks?

Author: R. Power

Just a reminder for those local to the Atlanta area, if you have peanut allergies but want to catch a game at Turner field Saturday as part of your Memorial Day Weekend, they do have a Peanut Free Section. Check out the Braves site for more details, and Have a Happy Memorial Day!

Posted by R. Power on Monday, February 10, 2014
Immunotheraphy Treatment Offers Hope for Peanut Allergy SufferersMothers with children who have peanut allergies can find hope for relief in recent allergy studies. In a study recently published in the Lancet, Dr. Andrew Clark and his team conducted clinical trials testing immunotherapy treatments for children with peanut allergies. A treatment group of children with this allergy were fed small yet increasing amounts of peanut flour for a 6 month period. After the treatment, over 80% of the children were able to safely eat the equivalent of 5 peanuts a day, which is at least 25 times the quantity of peanut protein they could tolerate before the experiment. "As kids take an increasing amount, their immune systems start to change," said Dr. Clark. "They can tolerate peanuts more robustly."

Immunotherapy has been a successful form of allergy relief for wasp-sting allergies and grass pollen. At its core, immunotherapy is a long, slow process of reintroducing tiny amounts of a particular allergen to patients. Over time, the amounts of the substance patients ingest or are exposed to increases with that hope of leading to a higher, long term tolerance of the allergen. With regard to peanut allergies, this has been the most successful study so far, and gives hope to parents who are constantly on the lookout for even trace amounts of peanuts that can send the severely allergic into anaphylactic shock. In the future this type of treatment could relieve much of the worry associated with trace amounts of allergens causing severe reactions and help lift many of the precautionary diet restrictions those with food allergies often have to impose.

While we wait for more research, long term test results, and potential FDA approval for this treatment, avoidance remains one of the best options for those dealing with food allergies. Though peanut butter might not be one the menu just yet, here are some Peanut/ nut substitute suggestions without the risk of allergic reactions.
  • Sunflower seed butter
  • Soy nut butter
  • Hummus
All of these substitutes are easily found in local grocery stores, generally near the peanut butters. If any of you readers have suggestions on sunflower seed butter or soy nut butter brands, let me know, I’d love to try!

Author: R. Power

Posted by Richard on Thursday, May 09, 2013
For all you peanut allergic individuals, have you ever wondered about eating at restaurants that use peanut oil for cooking. Five Guys and Chick-fil-A are probably the two most well known examples. They use peanut oil in their fryers.

Cooking oils used by most restaurants, especially the big commercial franchises that use peanut oil, use a highly processed, refined peanut oil. Why is this important? The refining process involves high heat, deodorization, bleaching, purification, and other methods of processing to strip away the peanut proteins that are responsible for the allergic reaction to peanuts and leaves a purified, refined oil.

The peanut oils to avoid are often the gourmet peanut oils. These types of oils may have things like "cold-pressed," "natural," "unrefined," "gourmet" or "aromatic" While the Cooking Oil Might be Safe, Five Guys Still Has Peanuts on the labeling of the bottle. Found in the cooking oil aisles at supermarkets or specialty stores, these oils often forego the refining process and retain allergic proteins.

There are research studies that back up these findings, and the FDA makes specific note of oils in Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) [Paragraph 1-201.10(B)]. So, if you are craving those fries cooked in the peanut oil, chances are you can probably feel safe eating them. Now, the only reasons to avoid Five Guys might be the actual peanuts in their restaurants or your expanding waistline.

Always inquire about the oil before ordering, and discuss with your allergist if you have any questions or reservations.

For more information on FDA guidelines concerning food allergens or for a convenient way to let restaurant staff know about your food allergies, try our convenient food allergy cards.

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, June 07, 2012
I've been waiting to see something along these lines for quite some time now. In the midst of this feisty election year, PeanutAllergy.com partnered with OpposingViews.com to run a poll. Should peanuts be banned from schools? While the breadth of the number of people polled is a relatively small sample, the results might be surprising to some.

With the "No" vote totaling 76.6%, most of those who responded are opposed to banning peanuts in school. This is interesting for a few reasons. First, food allergies in general but nut allergies in particular, have been trending sharply upward in recent years. In part because of better awareness surrounding food allergies, the number of cases of peanut allergies has been on the rise. Secondly, as more school districts and states across the nation are developing plans to keep Epi-Pens on hand, there has been a response to the growing number of severe allergic reaction cases by administrators, parents and legislators.

This is a sticky situation (sorry for the poor peanut butter pun) for several reasons. Peanuts have been a staple in the American diet for a very long time. On average, a typical American consumes over 3 lbs. of peanuts every year. Now this doesn't mean we're all sitting around at the ballpark, the local Five Guys, your nearest steakhouse or on airplanes just munching away. Peanut oil and the ever-favorite peanut butter is consumed and used in a variety of foods and for food preparation across the nation. Peanuts have traditionally been a low cost source of nutrients and protein, far cheaper than meat.

On the other side are the health risks for those who are allergic. Part of what makes the increase in food allergies so alarming is how severe they can be. Why have schools and state legislatures been pushing to enact laws that require schools to carry auto-injectors? Fatalities. Though the number of food allergy related deaths each year is small, typically a couple hundred, they are alarming, in large part because they are so preventable. And, for parents of children with severe food allergies, this no small matter, so much so that some parents have turned to home schooling or specially trained dogs to help their child avoid food they're allergic to.

There are also other issues in play with this debate, cost, effectiveness, and even concerns regarding civil liberties. The issue is a difficult one, but one where opinions can be very sharp and not in short supply. So where do you stand? Should they be banned in schools for allergy reasons? If not, what should schools and others do to help prevent these preventable deaths?

Author:

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