At this time, there is only one safe approach for people with food allergies, and that is to avoid any foods containing the allergy-triggering ingredient. However, this fails to take two important aspects into consideration:
- The individual threshold of each person, and
- The fact that processing may alter the allergenicity of the ingredients.
The processing of peanuts and hazelnuts in food production can increase or decrease their allergenicity depending on the process.
But at present, common food allergen analyses do not take these factors into account. It would be better to measure the allergenic potential of the ingredients already in the food.
The interdisciplinary research group ‘ErdHase’ now plans to develop this method. Their project name refers to peanuts and hazelnuts – ‘Erdnuss’ and ‘Haselnuss’ in German – the most common food allergy triggers.
“Our project is aimed at people who have to completely avoid nuts due to an allergy, with the goal of enabling them to eat a food containing nuts after performing a test”, says Klaus Schneider, head of the Institute for Biomolecular Research at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Idstein, Germany. The research project will create a toolbox for food analysis, which will have a direct link to the patients’ allergen detection.
Two clinics at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin are also involved in the ErdHase project. “The aim is to make a transparent declaration on the given food product for people with allergies”, explains Kirsten Beyer, a professor at the Paediatric Clinic.
Sabine Dölle-Bierke, a dermatologist at Charité, also underscores the importance for people with allergies: “Strict avoidance also comes with a significant reduction in quality of life for our patients. A food analysis tailored to the patient group will give them a way to select products and will also increase their quality of life.”
The ErdHase project is planned for three years and will receive around two million euro in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. R‑Biopharm, a company in Darmstadt, is leading the project.
Pardka A. Nahrungsmittelallergien: Forschungsgruppe will Sicherheit von Patienten weiter erhöhen. (Food allergies: research group aims to further increase patient safety.) Press release from Hochschule Fresenius dated 2 June 2021. Last retrieved on 21 July 2021. (In German)
Feiler S. Forschungsgruppe „ErdHase“ geht für sichere Lebensmittel an den Start. (‘ErdHase’ research group launches food safety project.) Press release from R‑Biopharm AG dated 2 June 2021. Last retrieved on 21 July 2021 (In German)