19. September 2018
The right tomato for people with birch pollen allergy

Certain varieties of tomatoes contain less allergy-triggering proteins (allergens) than others. A team at the Technical University of Munich discovered which ones.

The researchers examined 23 tomato varieties for the allergy-triggering protein Sola l 4. They classified the tomato varieties according to the levels of allergen they contained. The Rugantino and Rhianna have the least Sola l 4 allergen, while Farbini and Bambello have the most.

An image of the different tomato varieties appears in the journal PLOS One and can be viewed online.

The results are particularly important for people suffering from birch pollen allergy. This is because the main allergen in birch pollen (Bet v 1) is similar to that of tomatoes (Sola l 4). People who are allergic to birch pollen therefore have an increased risk of experiencing an allergic reaction to tomatoes.

Heat can help

The research team also investigated the effects of different processing methods – sun drying, oven drying and freeze-drying. They were able to demonstrate that tomato allergens are heat-sensitive. When the tomatoes were dried by sun or in the oven, their allergenic potential was reduced.

Whether the tomatoes were conventionally or organically cultivated had no influence on the allergen levels of the tomatoes.

The Munich research team believes that the results could help improve the quality of life for people with birch pollen allergies.


Text: kf/ktg

Original Study
Kurze E at al. Effect of tomato variety, cultivation, climate and processing on Sola l 4, an allergen from Solanum lycopersicum. PLOS ONE 13(6): e0197971