There are few things I love more than artisanal food stores, and that is one of the many blessings of living in New York City. They are EVERYWHERE.
I had brunch with my little brother and good friend Georges Labreche in Brooklyn on Sunday, and we ended the meal with a trip to the artisanal cheese store. As we perused the magical amounts of artisanal chocolates, spreads, and aged cheeses (which are lactose-sensitive), I came across a cheese called “Robiola Castagna” from Italy.
This made me think. Am I deathly allergic to this cheese? While there are, granted, no physical chestnuts in the cultured dairy product, it is wrapped in the very skin that wraps the fatal balls of protein that can take my life quicker than you can say “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”
I found out that cross-contamination infects these cheeses with non-edible fatality for me and those who have severe nut allergies. While the protein does not exist in the leaves themselves, the protein can, and does, spread from the leaves into the cheese. What’s more is that the pollen is a common allergen for most, and is also translated from the leaves into the cherished dairy goodness.
If you want to get real technical with it, see below. Otherwise, if you, or any other nut Bubble Child has an immediate-reaction nut allergy, there will be no Robiola Castagna cheese for you. Nor Chestnut leaves. But that doesn’t eliminate open fires. : )
“The major allergen has been identified as Cas s 1, a 22 kDa protein, a Bet v 1 homolog. A 14 kD protein allergen, identified as a profilin, has also been isolated from European Chestnut tree pollen. (Kos 1993 ref.1090 5) European Chestnut pollen has been shown to be present in honey and may contribute to allergic reactions.
In determining the profilin allergen, it was found that 92% of 14 patients with established allergy to pollen of the European Chestnut tree demonstrated specific IgE to the profilin allergen in this pollen. Fourteen percent displayed additional binding to a 14 kD protein and 1 (7%) bound only to the 14 kD protein of this extract. (Hirschwehr 1993 ref.4069 0)
In 503 patients with allergic rhinitis in the southern part of Switzerland (Canton Ticino), 37% were shown to be sensitised to European chestnut pollen. Chestnut pollens represent about 30% of the airborne pollens in this region. (Gilardi 1994 ref.4549 0)
Patients with Chestnut pollen-allergic rhinitis may have their symptoms prologued into summer due to the cross-reactivity with Birch tree. (Kos 1993 ref.1090 0)”