A University of Florida researcher has developed a new technique to make peanuts safer for people with peanut allergies.

Wade Yang, an assistant professor in UF’s food science and human nutrition department, used pulsed ultraviolet light, or PUV, to reduce the allergenic potential of peanuts by up to 90 percent. The study was published by the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology.

By releasing pulsed, or concentrated, bursts of light containing multiple wavelengths, PUV changes peanut allergens so that human antibodies can’t recognize them and cause the release of histamines, which are responsible for allergy symptoms such as itching, rashes and wheezing.

“We believe the allergen can be controlled at the processing stage, before the product even goes to the shelf,” Yang said.

More than 3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and reactions can range from skin rashes to death.

Peanuts have been found to cause the majority of deaths in the U.S. from anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction.