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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fermentation Technique May Cut Whey Allergies

Allergies are sparking some of the most interesting and creative food research. The need and desire to reduce allergic reactions, especially in children, has inspired a variety of techniques. Some promising - Desensitizing Food Allergies Possible in New Study - and some far more distant at best - Cure for Allergies? Don't Hold Your Breath.

The latest news is somewhere in between: extremely promising but probably nothing that will appear in your local supermarket anytime soon. Think of it as a well-hit double as opposed to swinging for the fences at the home run of eliminating allergies.

The study appeared in the journal Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Volume 7, Issue 3 , Pages 233-238. "Screening for lactic acid bacteria with potential to reduce antigenic response of beta-lactoglobulin in bovine skim milk and sweet whey," by N. Kleber, U. Weyrich, and J. Hinrichs.

I'm taking the news from an article posted at FoodNavigator.com.

Fermentation of dairy with a mix of lactic acid bacteria and a Streptococcus strain could selectively reduce the protein responsible for cows milk allergy, researchers have reported.

Researchers at Germany's University of Hohenheim have reported that fermentation of skim milk and sweet whey with a one-to-one mixture of the bacteria could reduce the quantity of beta-lactoglobulin, the main allergen in cows milk, by as much as 90 per cent.

The research may also have implications for the wider food industry since whey and whey-derived ingredients are extensively used in a range of food products.

...

"In more than 80 per cent of all cases, the whey protein beta-lactoglobulin (beta-lg) is the main elicitor of milk allergies for children and infants. Beta-lg is the major whey protein in milk and milk products and it is of particular interest because it is the sole whey protein fraction present in cow's milk which is not in human milk," explained lead author Nicole Kleber.

...

However, the researchers stressed that only the antigenicity of beta-lg was tested while the actual allergenicity was not.


Yep, you guessed it. More studies will be needed to test whether allergic reactions in people are truly reduced or whether this is just a lab-only success.

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