(This is the first in 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 patient’s individual reaction history. Please do not try oral food challenges at home on your own without medical approval.)
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 Wikipedia, Amylase is is an enzyme that catalyzes 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 the freshness of corn tortillas.
Plant sources of Amylase include:
- Barley Malt
Did you see how many times 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. We've been unknowingly poisoning our son for weeks. We 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. If your child is having a reaction, it's always good to ask the important questions like we did when we asked what is Amylase.