Food allergies and intolerances are a major public health concern not only for consumers, but also for food manufacturers and authorities. Although they only affect a small portion of the population, the impact on human health can be serious and immediate since there is no treatment for food allergy and the only option for consumers is to avoid foods that contain potentially dangerous ingredients.
This is the reason why EFSA and FDA require proper allergen labeling in food products. The presence of undeclared allergens in food is cause number 1 in EU and USA of food product recall or withdrawal from the market. The most common allergens are eggs, milk, soy, fish, peanuts, nuts, shellfish, crustaceans while gluten and lactose cause increasingly frequent intolerances.
An effective allergen management by food manufacturers requires a proper risk assessment, a reliable testing service as well as experienced experts of national and international regulations on allergens in food products.
Analytical capabilities are fundamental for the management of food allergens. An accurate and reliable analytical assessment of allergens in food is essential for:
- the monitoring plans,
- the verification and the validation of food safety and quality programs,
- process validation,
- the substitution of the raw materials
- the control of environmental samples and swabs to monitor allergens on the surfaces in contact with the product.
Mérieux NutriSciences provides a comprehensive offer for the management of food allergens with cutting-edge technologies PCR, ELISA, LC-MS/MS and regularly performs Ring and Proficiency Tests to ensure the maximum precision and accuracy in the analytical determination.
ELISA and PCR are routine techniques for the determination of allergens in food. ELISA-based test systems detect the allergenic proteins in food, while PCR reveals DNA from the food allergen. These technologies are widely available and have proven to be effective for a wide range of matrices. Our R&D division continuously works to find the best kits, the optimal working conditions and the appropriate fine-tuning for every allergen in each food matrix.
Together with ELISA and PCR techniques, Mérieux NutriSciences also has LC-MS/MS technology for multi-allergens testing, an approach only recently taken under consideration by AOAC, ILSI and MONIQA.
LC-MS/MS directly determines allergenic peptides regardless of their conformation, by means of liquid chromatography (LC) and mass spectrometry (MS/MS). It is an important complementary technique to ELISA and PCR, particularly suitable for the analysis of processed food where proteins can be partially denatured (eg. bakery products).
Mérieux NutriSciences can apply LC-MS/MS for multi-allergen analysis to detect 11 allergens in bakery products within a single sensitive, specific and accurate test:
- Brazil nut
- Macadamia nut
- Pecan nut
With PCR, ELISA and LC-MS/MS technologies in the portfolio, the long-standing scientific expertise in handling difficult matrices and its powerful international network, Mérieux NutriSciences offers a comprehensive analytical service on allergens in food, swabs, surfaces and environmental samples.
Our tests are accredited, with a continuous plan to extend the accreditation to other targets and matrices. Please discover on the side our current methods to test allergens in food, swabs, surfaces and environmental samples (* accreditation ISO17025)
Mérieux NutriSciences offers comprehensive management of food allergens by providing the following dedicated services: