A study into why people are allergic to peanuts, and not their close relative peas, could help improve the quality of food allergy tests, scientists believe.
The study will focus on why the peanut is so allergenic
The project, led by the Institute of Food Research in Norwich and funded by £9.6m of EU money, wants to establish how many people have a food allergy.
Scientists also hope to discover the main allergenic foods and how much allergies affect the quality of life.
They will be looking at how to prevent allergens reaching the food chain.
Dr Claire Mills from the Institute said: " For the first time, we will tease out the role of diet, environment and infections in the development of food allergy and whether early signs of predisposition to allergy can be found in our genes.
"Looking at the protein structure of peas and peanuts you would predict them to be equally as allergenic.
"As they are not, we are obviously missing something."
It is believed around 1m adults in the UK are allergic to particular foods.
The rate in children is higher - up to 1m under the age of 16 have some sort of food hypersensitivity, and some 200,000 are allergic to some foods.