Hidden Food Allergies: What is Amylase?

(This is a continuation of a series of posts on our experiences as we trial our son who has multiple food allergies with oral food challenges at home. Oral food challenges should always be performed under direct medical supervision based on each patients individual reaction history. Please do not try oral food challenges at home on your own without medical approval.)

Hidden Food Allergies What is Amylase

We gave Mitch a corn tortilla which appeared to be safe for him to eat even with his multiple food allergies, and he began to have all the symptoms he had when we believed he failed his baked egg challenge; his legs flared with eczema and he started having difficulty breathing. All the ingredients in the tortillas should have been safe for him, so what was causing him to react so badly?

Hidden Food Allergies: What is Amylase?

The last ingredient on the packaging of the corn tortillas was Amylase, but what is Amylase? Was this a hidden food allergy?

According to Wikipdia, Amylase is is an enzyme that catalyses the breakdown of starch into sugars. No problem right? It’s an enzyme not a protein. Well, not so fast.

Uses for Amylase include:

  • Modern bread making techniques have included amylases (often in the form of malted barley) into bread improver, thereby making the process faster and more practical for commercial use.
  • In traditional beer brewing, malted barley is mixed with hot water to create a “mash,” which is held at a given temperature to allow the amylases in the malted grain to convert the barley’s starch into sugars.
  • Maltogenic amylase can be used to extend freshness of corn tortillas.

Plant sources of Amylase include:

  • Papain, Bromelain
  • Barley Malt
  • Soybean

Did you see how many time barley appeared within the information above?

Barley is the only allergen other than peanuts and tree nuts we were instructed by his allergist not to trial under any circumstances. Crap! We’ve been poisoning our son for weeks and not even knowing it. I never thought Amylase would contain a hidden allergen like barley.

Even though a food product doesn’t include the allergen itself, it may contain ingredients grown/developed within other food/animal products (similar to how flu vaccinations are developed in eggs) which may lead to traces of hidden food proteins in an assumingly safe food product.

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  1. Nutritiongal says

    Amylase is just an enzyme that humans naturally have! It breaks down sugars, so I promise it’s not the amylase bothering him.

    • says

      Yes it is an enzyme and I did note that in my article, but I also noted our sons severe barley allergy the connection between barley and amylase.

      But, there are also multiple articles within the US National Library of Medicine that document proof of an allergy to amylase, like the article below which states “This case indicates that alpha-amylase contained in bread may provoke IgE-mediated food allergy.”


      Whether our sons reaction is from the connection to barely or the amylase itself, his reaction is life threatening. He eats no food containing amylase


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