In research shared at the end of last year, a team from Oxford University shared research that suggested that dry-roasted peanuts may be more likely to provoke a peanut allergy than peanuts exposed to lower levels of heat in mice. You can read part of their findings, which were shared in a Letter to the Editor in the well-known Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The team exposed two groups of mice without a peanut allergy to different types of peanut protein. One group got protein from raw peanuts and the other group got protein from dry-roasted peanuts. The mice that got protein from dry-roasted peanuts were much more likely to develop a peanut allergy. You can read the lead researcher’s press release here.
The Oxford team proposed that the higher temperatures seem to make the proteins in peanuts change in a way that makes them more likely to influence the mouse immune system. This may be different from the way other common food allergens behave when heated. For instance milk and egg proteins are broken down by exposure to heat, such as in baked goods. That’s why some allergy research teams are studying how small amounts of baked goods that contain milk or eggs can help some people with those food allergies better tolerate those foods over time. (Make sure you ask your allergy team about this if you’re curious – DON’T try it on your own!)
What’s the key take-away message? At this time, the findings from this research only tell us about mice. However, the research in mice suggests that dry-roasted peanuts may play some role in humans developing a peanut allergy. There are many other factors that influence development of food allergies. More research needs to happen before we’ll know whether dry-roasted peanuts and their products play a role in developing allergies and whether it would help anyone to avoid them.