Call for partners – Processing with a bite – but without allergies. Mild processing applications for salad vegetables.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is searching for industrial partners (vegetable salad suppliers & retail) interested in joint research efforts to develop mild processing procedures for carrot/celery salads that inactivate heat-labile allergens while retaining crunchiness.

A considerable number of consumers suffers from allergic symptoms (allergic rhinitis) when eating certain vegetables, especially when consumed raw in salads such as carrot and celery: itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue and throat. This happens in up to 50 to 75% of adults that are allergic to birch tree pollen. In NL alone, this concerns ca. 500.000 consumers, while in Europe ca. 7.5 million consumers may be affected. Exclusion of raw vegetables from their diet is the only remedy, leading to reduced sales of ready to eat salads.

Processing with a bite – but without allergies

The vegetable proteins that cause the allergic symptoms are relatively heat-sensitive, so amenable to in-activation upon (mild) processing. Mild processing of salad vegetables such as carrot and celery, retains their crisp bite. Central to the project is whether such processing is effective in inactivating the allergenic proteins. In such case, the retail market for such products will increase.

Mildly processed samples will be tested for the model vegetables carrot and celery. The effect on crunchiness will be evaluated. In addition, the reduced ability to cause allergic symptoms will be evaluated on human volunteers by application of extracts on the skin (skin prick test). Also, questionnaires for market value will be distributed within the population group suffering from hay fever to evaluate the willingness to buy such specific mild processed salads.

This consortium is open for participation from vegetable salad suppliers, retail and catering business. The TKI Agri & Food PPS construction is based on 50% contributions of industrial partners, of which 50% must be in cash and 50% can be in kind. Unfortunately we are not able to reply to solicitations from research institutes or enquiries from students related to this project.