A Hypoallergenic Peanut: One Mom’s Response

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Great news! A hypoallergenic peanut is on its way! And all the peanut allergic people rejoiced!

Right?

My son just shook his head. An emphatic “NO” from him. Phew.

Hypoallergenic Peanuts
So, someone is trying to find a way to get peanut allergic folks to be able to eat peanuts. Because there isn’t enough food in this world to offer good quality alternates?

Last week, Heather shared about the progress made by  researchers in North Carolina, and how they have found a way to reduce the allergic protein of two strands (of 13 recognized) in peanuts—the Ara h1 and Ara h2—almost completely.

Almost.

They’ve reduced the allergic protein of Ara h1 to undetectable levels and Ara h2—one of the proteins closely correlated with anaphylactic reactions—by 98%. So, there’s only 2% of the allergic protein left in the peanut.

I can hear all the world’s positive thinkers out there saying, “Only 2% chance, that’s so great! No need to worry about 2%!” I submit to you there is great need to worry about 2%.

Think of it this way:

You and I are standing with your child next to a busy street. I blindfold you and give you noise-canceling earphones. Then, I patiently wait until I am confident your senses are dulled and that you can no longer time traffic. Next, I give you the pre-arranged signal to push your child onto the road next to us.  Oh, before I blindfolded you and gave you those special earphones, I explained that there is only a 2% chance a car will be driving by when I give you the signal to push your child into the street.

Would you do it?

Two percent gives false hope. Two percent does not offer safety. Two percent can still land a severely allergic person in the hospital—or worse.

For the time being, we will swap out our Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for Sun Cups and we will continue to find alternatives to make our favorites adaptable to the allergies in our family.  Our quality of life is not diminished because of these exchanges. And I love a good challenge in the kitchen.

This research has a long way to go before it makes it to the general market. Even then, we likely will avoid “allergy safe” peanuts when they are available. I wonder if there are others that would give them a shot. Would you try them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tiffany Self

Tiffany Self is a wife, mom to "Z", and a lover of words. In an ironic twist, she is an English class dropout who now writes for a living. Tiffany is a freelancer in the Chicago suburbs by way of Seattle and Southern Oregon. She writes about her journey of parenting a child with multiple severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

4 Comments to A Hypoallergenic Peanut: One Mom’s Response

  1. The road analogy is great, Tiffany, and you’re absolutely right. Two per cent is still very serious. A few commenters on Facebook have also made the point of not being able to tell a regular peanut from a “treated” peanut, which is a scary thought.

  2. While I sympathize with the author’s analogy, and understand that 2% is 2% too much, I think the point that this is being done is pretty amazing. To further the analogy, the alternative would be that your child could just never get to play in the streets, if there were no scientists striving to do this. And who wants to limit children playing in the streets. Not me for sure. All analogies aside, allergies come in many forms and some people have mild reactions and perhaps this would be a way for them to experience and enjoy peanuts or Reese’s etc. Not everyone has the maximum worst reaction to their allergies and I think parents and people with allergies know enough to be aware of the potential dangers, and weigh the risks.

    • Tiffany Self

      Hi Jocephus–thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I see what you’re saying and can appreciate the flip side of my thoughts, absolutely. That doesn’t change how we feel about this option right now, but I can completely understand why others may feel differently than we do.

  3. Keep in mind that there is a spectrum of sensitivity. While 2% may still trigger an issue in those severely affected, it will be much less severe. Most are likely to not be affected at all from normal contact. More importantly, 98% suppression of the antigen means that trace doses become far less likely to inadvertently trigger a response from someone accidentally exposed. Such steps are indeed breakthroughs, and we should be celebrating the fact that we can remove substantial risk from food using modern technologies.

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