Modified Food for Allergy III: Changing Eggs to Make Them Less Allergic

Sloane Miller Health Guide
  • This is Part Three of a 3-Part series on Modified Foods for Food Allergies.

    Part One is about genetically modified peanuts.

    Part Two is about fermenting soy to reduce allergens.


    According to the FDA: The most allergic foods in the U.S. (i.e. the foods that cause 90% of all allergic reactions) are:


    • Milk
    • Eggs
    • Peanuts
    • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
    • Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
    • Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
    • Soy
    • Wheat

    This list also represents the foods most likely to cause a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

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    Three of these are in the crosshairs of geneticists worldwide: peanuts, soy and now, the egg.


    It's been recently reported that chemists in Germany and Switzerland are looking to reduce the allergenicity of the egg. Infants and children make up the largest percentage of those with adverse reactions to eggs. Eggs are also used as the basis for many necessary vaccines. A less allergic egg could be very useful.



    "In the new study, Angelika Paschke and colleagues describe their process, which exposes raw eggs to a combination of high heat and enzymes to break down their main allergens. The researchers then tested their reduced-allergen egg against blood serum collected from people with egg allergies. The modified egg product was 100 times less allergenic than raw egg, the scientists say. It does not significantly affect flavor and texture when used in various products, they add."


    However, here we are again with the same question we've posed in other posts about "Frankenfoods": does the potential allergenicity of a food justify a modification to denature it? What are we left with? Is it still an egg without its essential egg proteins? An egg that doesn't have some of the essential eggyness?


    These experiments conjure up previous, well-publicized food "modifications" scientists have made to eliminate, highlight, or increase a certain aspect of a food. Remember olestra and potato chips? If weight is your problem, then it's probably best to avoid the chips altogether, not find ways to "fix" the chip so it can't do what it does - pack on the pounds. Of course those chips caused other unpleasant effects ("anal leakage" chief among them!).


    Similarly, the standard practice, and only "cure" thus far, for people with food allergies is to avoid the problematic food. It is the most effective method, even though it can be difficult. Maybe we could all learn to live without some things.

    There's a concept: instead of changing the food , perhaps we should change our behaviors.


    What do you think?

Published On: April 02, 2008