Scientists in the US have come up with an alternative for children allergic to peanut butter - youngsters may soon be smearing 'Sunbutter' on their sandwiches.
The new product is the result of a joint research project between the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the chief scientific research agency of the US Department of Agriculture and US sunflower seed producer Red River Commodities.
Red River Commodities is to officially unveil the new product this week at the Institute of Food Technologists 2002 Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology approximately 3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts, with symptoms ranging from a mild case of hives to severe anaphylactic shock.
Leading researcher Isabel Lima, an SRRC research chemist, together with food technologist Harmeet Guraya discovered a way to process sunflower seeds naturally so that they taste "nutbuttery" when they are blended with other ingredients.
In order to avoid any product contamination with peanuts Red River said in a statement this week that it plans to test regularly for peanut residue in their ingredients and finished products as an additional precaution. The company added that a sensory panel was convened in May to perfect the Sunbutter formulation. The finished product looks similar to peanut butter and has a mild yet distinctive sunflower seed flavour.