Making light of food allergies

Written by Katie Bayliss

Researchers in Spain are taking steps towards ‘allergy-free’ food, by treating allergy-inducing proteins with a pulsed light treatment that makes them easier to digest.

 The scientists at the University of Granada and the AZTI-Tecnalia Food Research Institute studied the protein β-lactoglobulin, which acts as an excellent emulsifier in milk and other food products but has a compact structure that defies easy digestion. This lack of digestibility is linked to allergenicity, explains team member Julia Maldonado-Valderrama: ‘If the protein is not completely digested, the body reacts as if it is an allergen, which can trigger an allergic reaction.’ Pre-treatment could break down the protein structure before eating; however, it’s a balancing act. ‘If you break the protein down too much in order to facilitate digestion, they lose their functionality and can’t be used to make foams and emulsions in food products,’ says Maldonado-Valderrama.

To read the full article please visit Chemistry World.

Improved digestibility of β-lactoglobulin by pulsed light processing: dilatational and shear study
Teresa del Castillo-Santaella, Esther Sanmartín-Sierra, Miguel Cabrerizo-Vílchez, J Arboleya and Julia Maldonado-Valderrama 
Soft Matter, 2014
DOI: 10.1039/C4SM01667J, Paper

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