London, Feb. 7 (Reuters): Scientists have developed a new, highly sensitive test that detects even the tiniest amount of peanuts in processed foods.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency, which funded the research, said the test will be a relief for the one in 200 people in Britain who are allergic to peanuts. “This new test is a small but important step forward in our work to protect people who are affected by food allergy,” Dr Andrew Wadge, the acting director of food safety policy at the agency, said today.
People allergic to peanuts must be very careful about what they eat. Eating the wrong food can cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock, which kills about 10 people with a food allergy each year in Britain.
The test can distinguish peanuts from other nuts and detects minuscule traces of peanut DNA in food products. It will allow food manufacturers to tell customers if their products contain even a few parts per million of peanut. Wadge said more research is needed to determine if the test can be adapted and used by food manufacturers in all types of food.
Peanut allergy usually begins early in life and rarely goes away. Parents of children with the allergy must be vigilant about what their youngsters eat.