For the very first time, the US Food and Drug Administration has allowed a food item to claim it may prevent peanut allergies in infants.
Created by a Long Island physician, “Hello, Peanut” is a powdered peanut product that is meant to be mixed into baby food for infants who are around five months old and do not have known peanut allergies.
How Does It Work?
Each kit comes with seven packets of organic peanut flour and sprouted oak flakes, with each packet containing a different amount of peanuts. The infant eats a larger amount of peanuts each day, beginning with a packet containing 200 milligrams of powdered peanut and ending with a two-gram packet seven days later.
If the infant does not display symptoms of an allergic reaction, the parent can then begin administering “maintenance” packets containing 2 grams of peanut powder. These can be consumed up to three times a week and should be used until the infant is old enough to chew and swallow peanuts.
Dr. David Erstein released Hello, Peanut in 2016 but it wasn’t until September of 2017 that the FDA permitted the item to say on its label that it may be able to reduce peanut allergies.
“This is a very important claim for us to allow to be incorporated into food labels,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the F.D.A. “The guidelines for how to approach allergens in children are changing, the science is changing, and it’s important for parents to know.”
A Groundbreaking Change Of Opinion
The FDA’s decision comes just months after the US’s top allergists changed their official recommendations for preventing peanut allergies. Until this change of mind, parents were recommended to withhold peanuts throughout early infancy. The new recommendation advises parents to expose infants to peanut powder or extract on a constant basis as they learn to eat solid food.
Peanut allergies have increased three-fold in several major countries over the past 10 to 15 years, possibly due to health officials perpetuating the now-debunked guidelines regarding when infants should first be exposed to peanuts.
FDA officials noted that the label for Hello, Peanut warns that evidence supporting its allergy prevention capabilities is limited. The label is still the first, however, to claim that it may prevent an allergy, the New York Times reports.
Our Best Hope Yet
While there is no known “cure” for peanut allergies, experts have said that products like Hello, Peanut pose the greatest chance for eradicating the condition.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggested to the New York Times that peanut allergies will most likely never become something someone can simply outgrow.
“One of the reasons it is even more compelling to avoid the onset of peanut allergies is that other types of food allergies — egg, fish and some others — you often, though not always, outgrow the allergy with age,” he said. “This is generally not the case with peanut at all. Once you get peanut allergies, you essentially have them forever, which is why it becomes even more important to do this prevention through early exposure.”
Produced in a Brooklyn, NY facility, Hello, Peanut is certified organic, kosher and GMO-free. The seven-day kit is currently available for $25 while three weeks’ worth of the maintenance kit can be purchased for about $20.