Detection of Allergens in Processed Foods: The Next Analytical Challenge

by Adrian ROGERS - Senior Research Scientist - Romer Labs UK.

by Adrian ROGERS – Senior Research Scientist – Romer Labs UK.
Those of us involved in the food allergen analytical community are constantly striving to improve allergen detection methods. One of the areas of focus recently has been to investigate how we can enhance the detection of allergens present in processed foods.

The majority of the food and drink we consume has been processed or modified in some way. This processing brings about many benefits in terms of food safety, preservation and taste. Processing changes the characteristics of the food, of particular interest are the changes that can occur to allergenic proteins. Processing of allergens can alter their allergenicity, changing how an allergic individual may react to them.

Food allergen analysis is important as a means to emphasise greater transparency, traceability and integrity in the supply chain. Analysis supports validation and verification of cleaning and investigation of recalls and incidents.

Most allergen detection methods rely on the use of antibodies to detect allergens present in food. It follows that such detection may be effected by processing. Such processing effects must be taken into account when developing new analytical methods, either by improving extractability of aggregated proteins or by going back to basics and raising new sets of antibodies that specifically target processed allergens.

Immunoassays that can reliably detect processed allergens are key to being able to fully support the food industry with all their future analytical needs.

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