Allergic reactions require large protein molecules (antigens) to stimulate the production of antibodies. To reduce allergenicity, the source protein can be broken down into small peptide molecules and amino acids by enzyme hydrolysis. This process has been used successfully in the production of hydrolysed formulae (HF). These infant formulae are based on animal or vegetable protein (casein, whey, soy and bovine collagen) and are used extensively in children with cow's milk allergy or intolerance.
In gluten-induced enteropathy a specific protein (gluten) is responsible for stimulating the immune reaction. Foods have been prepared without gluten, that are suitable for these individuals. When a protein is denatured by heat, most of the original tertiary structure is lost, so that many of the sites recognised by antibodies on the native molecule are destroyed. There are many examples of allergenicity being reduced, but not eliminated, by heating. Thermal processing can be part of a procedure for making hypoallergenic food, but will rarely be sufficient on its own.
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