Peanut cross-contamination in randomly selected baked goods
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BACKGROUND: The current standard of care for managing peanut allergy includes avoidance of peanut and use of injectable epinephrine; however, strict avoidance is difficult and accidental ingestion is common with potentially serious consequences. Despite vigilance and efforts to minimize the risk of accidental exposure, peanut protein cross-contamination continues to occur in a variety of foods, including baked goods. OBJECTIVE: To assess and quantify the presence of peanut protein contamination in certain baked goods. METHODS: Randomly selected baked goods were collected from bakeries in the New York and Miami metropolitan areas that sold a variety of ethnic cuisines. A second set of samples from the same bakeries was collected at least 1 week after to evaluate between-batch variability. Samples were sent to the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program to analyze peanut contamination by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Consumption estimates were based on 2003 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey survey data. RESULTS: Of 154 samples from 18 bakeries, 4 (2.6%) had detectable peanut contamination with peanut protein levels ranging from 0.1 mg/100 g to 650 mg/100 g. Consumption estimates for single occasion ingestion of a contaminated item ranged from 0.07 mg to 832 mg of peanut protein. CONCLUSION: In this study, unintended peanut protein was present in a small, but not insignificant, proportion of baked goods, with the potential to trigger a reaction in individuals with peanut allergy. Some products contained high levels of unintended peanut protein. The current data support the potential for accidental exposure to peanut protein with its associated risk.
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