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In the past decade, there has been an increase in the prevalence of food allergy, asthma and severe reaction to food. Reasons for this increase are greatly unknown, and there are no therapy and treatments available despite the potential for a lethal outcome. Many studies are being taken to find out what modern processing techniques have to do with food allergies, and if they are the cause of increased food allergies. Food processing has been known to influence allergenicity, and studies have expounded on this fact. Here are some of the impacts of processing on food allergenicity.

Effect of Processing on Proteins

Processing can cause thousands of biochemical reactions to occur among food components. Such responses are what influence the allergenicity of known allergens or proteins within the food. Studies have shown that roasted peanuts extract are much more sensitive in terms of allergies than raw peanuts. This is significant findings since processing peanuts involve roasting it.

Milk and Milk Allergens

Milk is known to be an excellent source of fat, mineral, and vitamins and on average, cow’s milk consists of different quantities of carbohydrates, water, and proteins. Milk goes through a lot of processing before it is consumed, and this is especially true in developing countries. Milk goes through various processes that involve cooling, heating and it is also centrifuged. Before it can reach to the final consumer different purification processes take place that determines the quality and life of milk. The processing continues for it to be used with milk products.

Thermal processing milk involves heating milk at different times, and the process partially reduces the allergenicity of milk. Processing procedures such as UHT processing so far do not affect the allergenicity of milk, and this might be the reason why UHT processing is the most common thermal processing.

Egg and Egg Allergens

An egg is one of the most common foods whose allergenicity is altered by processing or cooking. Eggs are globally used as nutrients and food additives, as the egg white contains proteins which are considerably higher than the egg yolk.

With eggs, some studies show that heating it partially reduces the allergenicity of egg white. This is because egg white contains an allergen called ovomucoid which is the primary cause of egg-induced allergies. Ovomucoid depletes when the egg is heated thus offsetting allergenicity properties of the egg.

Soybean and Soybean Allergens

Soybeans are known to contain 37% protein. And so far eight allergenic proteins have been registered. The soybeans undergo numerous processing steps to come up with different products. Such products include soy flour, soy protein concentrates, soy protein isolates, protein hydrolysates, textured soy proteins. Fermented products are also included, and they contain soy proteins whose structures may have undergone several modifications.

Soy allergenicity may be reduced or retained by food processing, and this can be backed up with some existing evidence. One-step processing may not entirely abolish soy allergenicity apart from highly refined soybean oil and other soybean products where their protein levels are reduced below relevant clinical concentrations.

Further research is needed to determine the difference in allergenicity change between processed foods and raw foods. The efficiency of new processing strategies in reducing food allergenicity should be demonstrated in individuals to ascertain their worth.

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