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The effect of gastrointestinal digestion on the allergenicity of foods

Contract number : QLK1-2001-01239
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 2.642.284
EC contribution : € 1.710.311
Starting date : 1/01/2002
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Barend Verachtert
Project website : not yet available
Dr Shmuel Yannai
Technion Research and Development Foundation Ltd.
Department of Food Engineering and Biotechnology
Technion City
32000 Haifa
Tel.: +97248293350
Fax: +97248320742
E-mail: syannai @

We propose a novel in-vitro model of human digestion with gastric and duodenal phase of various specificity (human recombinant enzymes) and added bile salts. It will provide industries and regulators improved food-processing methods of assessing protein digestibility, data on allergen release and changes in allergenicity during digestion. Digestibility is part of the risk assessment of novel foods and transgenes selection for introduction into plant foods and relevant to assessing the macronutrient quality of proteins. Food allergens are notably resistant to hydrolysis, can escape digestion, cross the gut barrier and trigger allergic reactions. Current in vitro tests use animal enzymes but do not mimic the complexities of the human digestive tract. The digesta will be characterised for allergenicity, and at the biochemical level, thus enabling production of high-quality hypoallergenic foods for consumption by the society.


The project aims to expand current allergenicity assessment strategies regarding GMOs to encompass the whole organism and NOT just the target transgene, and to include novel food processing, ingredients and foods, especially nutritionally-enhanced foods. It will

  • develop a small-scale in vitro model of the human digestive system to assess digestibility versus novel protein;
  • provide information on the allergenic activity of degraded versus intact allergens;
  • demonstrate the basis for linking the lack of digestibility of food allergens with their allergenic reactivity;
  • investigate how release and digestion of allergens is determined by the food;
  • develop a decision tree for determining allergenic risks posed by proteins, as part of the broader toxicological


Institute of Food Research
Food Materials Science Division
Norwich Research Park, Colney
NR4 7UA Norwich
United Kingdom
Department of Pediatrics and Juvenile Medicine
University of Vienna
Währinger Gürtel 18-20
1090 Vienna
Laboratoire d' Immuno-Allergie Alimentaire
Cea Saclay
Bâtiment 136
91191 Gyf Sur Yvette
P & A Kyriakou Children's Hospital
Department of Pediatrics
Allergy Unit
Thevou and Levadias Street
11527 Athens
Unilever UK Central Resources Ltd
Investigative Toxicology Unit
Colworth House
MK44 1LQ Sharnbrook, Bedford
United Kingdom
Rhodia Food Biolacta Spolka Z O O
Warszawska, 111
10-701 Olsztyn

Fifth Framework Programme

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