N.C. Researchers Could Take Allergens Out of Peanuts
GREENSBORO,NC-- "I don't really eat peanuts, cause I don't want to get an epipen," said 6 year old Delani Hammonds. He is very allergic to peanuts and has never known what it's like to taste one. "You know everywhere I go I try to be cautious, we bring all our food everywhere we go," says Delani's mom Nancy Hammonds.
North Carolina is the fifth largest producer of peanuts in the nation. The industry brings nearly 60 million dollars to the state's economy each year. Researcher at North Carolina A&T State University found a way to introduce a food grade enzyme to peanuts which reduces the allergens and one day could make it safe for everyone to consume.
Dr. Yu has been working on the project since 2005 and says an allergy free peanut could be a reality within three years, "in the United States about 1 percent of population are allergic to peanuts, working on a project that has a potential to reduce peanut allergy is an honor and also it is important."
Students working on the project share in the pride of possibly saving lives."Its absolutely rewarding to know at some point they'll, children will be able to eat peanut butter and not be worried about the fact that they're allergic," said Ivy Smith a research assistant.
Delani Hammonds still won't take a chance even with allergy free peanuts, but his mom says it's a step in the right direction. "That would be one less worry cause he has multiple allergies so that would be one less thing I would have to worry about," said Nancy Hammonds.
Accidental exposures account for 75% of allergic reactions. North Carolina A&T has secured additional funding for more research. That could help get allergen free peanuts on the market faster.