Food processing can have many beneficial effects. However, processing may also alter the allergenic properties of food proteins. A wide variety of processing methods is available and their use depends largely on the food to be processed. In this review the impact of processing (heat and non-heat treatment) on the allergenic potential of proteins, and on the antigenic (IgG-binding) and allergenic (IgE-binding) properties of proteins has been considered. A variety of allergenic foods (peanuts, tree nuts, cows' milk, hens' eggs, soy, wheat and mustard) have been reviewed. The overall conclusion drawn is that processing does not completely abolish the allergenic potential of allergens. Currently, only fermentation and hydrolysis may have potential to reduce allergenicity to such an extent that symptoms will not be elicited, while other methods might be promising but need more data. Literature on the effect of processing on allergenic potential and the ability to induce sensitisation is scarce. This is an important issue since processing may impact on the ability of proteins to cause the acquisition of allergic sensitisation, and the subject should be a focus of future research. Also, there remains a need to develop robust and integrated methods for the risk assessment of food allergenicity.
Keywords: Allergenicity; Allergic sensitisation; Food allergy; Food processing; IgE antibody.
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