Cleaning and Removal of Peanut Allergens – Research
AAIA newsletter Issue 2 2004
The objective of a recent Johns Hopkins study* was to detect peanut allergen under various environmental conditions and examine the effectiveness of cleaning agents for allergen removal.
Peanut contamination was assessed on cafeteria tables and other surfaces in schools, along with the presence of residual peanut protein after using various cleaning products on hands and tabletops, and airborne peanut allergen during the consumption of several forms of peanut.
After hand washing with liquid soap, bar soap, or commercial wipes, peanut protein (Ara h 1) was undetectable. However, plain water and antibacterial hand sanitizer left detectable Ara h 1 on 3 of 12 and 6 of 12 hands, respectively. Common household cleaning agents removed peanut allergen from tabletops, except dishwashing liquid, which left Ara h 1 on 4 of 12 tables . Pediatric allergist Robert A. Wood, M.D., senior author of the study stated that the dish soap possibly creates a film over eating surfaces, making it difficult to clean underneath. However, the results suggest that even if a child licked the table vigorously after it had been cleaned with dish soap, he probably wouldn’t get enough allergen to cause a reaction. (Ed- bold type is mine)
The bigger concern to emerge from the study was the failure of hand sanitizers, which are frequently seen by teachers as being more convenient than sending children to the bathroom to wash up, to eliminate Ara h 1. Dr. Wood suggested that they may not really remove the allergen, but just spread it around. (Ed- bold type is mine)
Of the 6 area preschools and schools evaluated, Ara h 1 was found on 1 of 13 water fountains, 0 of 22 desks, and 0 of 36 cafeteria tables. Airborne Ara h 1 was undetectable in simulated real-life situations when participants consumed peanut butter, shelled peanuts, and unshelled peanuts.
The researchers concluded that the major peanut allergen, Ara h 1, is relatively easily cleaned from hands and tabletops with common cleaning agents and does not appear to be widely distributed in preschools and schools. They were not able to detect airborne allergen in many simulated environments.
*This research was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, May 2004. This summary is printed with permission of Dr. Robert A. Wood, M.D. Department of Pediatrics, Division of Allergy and Immunology, John Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md; and INDOOR Biotechnologies, Charlottesville, Va, USA.
Thanks to Lance Hill of the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) for pointing out this interesting article.
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