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We asked an expert on allergen testing, Phil Goodwin, of Diagnostic Innovations Ltd, for his opinion on the findings.


He expressed some doubts about the study, saying that the researchers used a very simplistic approach to “digestion” of the protein/allergen complex. He said that in practice, acidic conditions are supplemented by various protein digesting enzymes as well as neutralization, all of which could result in a re-emergence of bound allergen.


Furthermore, he said, the amount of tannic acid that could be put into food would be high and it would affect all proteins, not just allergens, and this might cause nutritional issues.


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US peanut project focuses on tannins

April 2012: The use of tannic acid in foods containing peanuts could help to reduce their allergenic potential, according to new research from the USA.


The idea behind the research is that the tannins form insoluble complexes with major peanut allergens, with the result that they might pass through the digestive system without causing an allergic reaction.


People with peanut allergy might still be advised to avoid peanuts, but there would be a reduced risk from accidental ingestion.


Dr Si-Yin Chung and his fellow researchers, based in New Orleans, note that tannic acid has long been regarded as an anti-nutrient or protein-reducing agent in foods.


They report: “IgE binding of the extracts (i.e. the immunoreactivity) was reduced substantially, especially at a tannic concentration of 1-2 mg/ml.”


Writing in Food Chemistry, the researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture stressed that while their studies show promise, animal or clinical studies are needed to confirm the findings and determine if tannic acid is in fact useful for the development of peanut products that have a reduced capability for causing allergic reactions.

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