Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hypoallergenic Peanuts are a Terrible Idea

I've been seeing many articles on the web recently about how researchers are developing a hypoallergenic peanut.  This company called Xemerge is hoping to commercialize an enzyme treatment that will reduce two key peanut allergens by up to 98 percent.  Here is the link to the article that I recently read:

I think hypoallergenic peanuts could be beneficial to people who are undergoing immunotherapy under a doctor's supervison to reduce or eliminate their peanut allergy.  But the suggested uses go even further; the article goes on to say “Treated peanuts can be used as whole peanuts, in pieces or as flour to make foods containing peanuts safer for many people who are allergic,” Dr. Yu said."  Are you kidding me?  For people with severe peanut allergies, NO FOOD CONTAINING PEANUTS IS SAFE.  

I think it's great that science has figured out a way to reduce two known peanut allergens.  I would never eat this 'hypoallergenic' peanut: to me eating this thing would be like putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger with a 2% chance I could die.  So not worth it.  I am extraordinarily sensitive to peanuts: in 2011 an accidentally ingested speck of peanut dust put me in the ER overnight and the ICU for a day.  

And even if most peanuts were treated to make them hypoallergenic, and I was able to eat them in small amounts, this would make me dangerously comfortable and complacent.  Hypoallergenic peanuts could make me lazy about being vigilant, and reading labels.  Until that one day that I eat something containing peanuts that weren't hypoallergenic.  I could die or get really sick.  

Hypoallergenic peanuts provide a false sense of safety.  People with severe peanut allergies need to be hyper-vigilant and mindful about everything they eat.  Being conscientious and creating a routine to avoid deadly anaphylactic food allergies is a good thing: it keeps me alive.  Hypoallergenic peanuts are not the answer.  

Hypoallergenic peanuts won't be safe for me until every peanut on earth is hypoallergenic.  And realistically that's not going to happen.

The truth is, I don't want to eat highly processed 'reduced-allergen' peanut products.

I want science to cure peanut allergies.  

I want to be free.  

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