Peanut allergies are among the most common, and most severe – sometimes even deadly, food allergies, afflicting 2.8 million people in the US. But the USDA says that peanut allergy sufferers may have an option if they want to eat the legume: A new hypoallergenic peanut is “expected to hit store shelves soon.”
The breakthrough happened thanks to a new partnership between North Carolina A&T State University and Xemerge, a Toronto-based tech-ag firm. According to an official USDA report, “Researchers found that by soaking roasted peanuts that have been shelled and skinned in a solution containing food-grade enzymes, they can virtually reduce or eliminate two key allergens. The process does not affect flavor, and treated peanuts can be eaten whole, in pieces, or as flour in various products.” Clinical trials have already been conducted at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill meaning these less-deadly peanuts are nearly ready to go.
A major advancement in food science like this one is exciting for the USDA. According to Modern Farmer, “the USDA wants to be associated with it and other work that could be popular among the public.” I guess large government bureaucracies sometimes have a bit of a PR problem. Getting behind a peanut that won’t kill people certainly might get the public on their side, though if they really wanted to get people amped, I’d suggest putting some work into inventing a zero-calorie chocolate milkshake.