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Eurofins explores options for allergen detection method

By Joe Whitworth , 09-Jan-2013

Eurofins is exploring the bakery industry as well as food that uses herb and spices for its mass spectrometry allergen detection method.

The firm has claimed its allergen detection system is more efficient over existing detection technology in processed products and hopes to validate the method for sectors in bakery in the first half of this year through collaboration with industry and using 'real-life' samples.

Their allergen analysis method, Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS-MS), is the first technology that allows confirmatory analysis of multiple allergens in a single analysis.

Other methods include Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) which detects the actual allergen protein molecules and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), a DNA test but it is limited in that it cannot test milk or egg whites because they don’t contain DNA.

All three methods can detect levels of contaminants in the low parts per million (ppm) ranges and take around the same time to get results from routine matrixes and normal samples.

In a peer-reviewed article published in the Journal AOAC , (select option one) comparative tests showed that the ELISA method failed to detect 1,000mg/kg of egg, milk and soya on bread, said Eurofins.

These allergens in that amount have been found to cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, the firm added.

Risk assessment basis

Bert Popping, director of molecular biology and immunology at Eurofins, told FoodQualityNews.com their test can detect egg, milk, soy, walnut, hazelnut, peanut and almond.

“Food manufacturers work on a risk assessment basis, based on analytical results and decide whether to label or not with label may contain notices for consumer confidence.

“The technology would give confidence on analytical based decisions which are valid, rather than on technology which would not work so cases would be recalled, causing cost and reputation of brand damage,” he said.

“Egg and milk are among the top four allergens anywhere in the world so that makes them the most important.”

Quantity detection

Scientists at Eurofins developed the method that allows detection allergenic compounds at low levels using mass spectrometry in 2010.

He added: “It is very likely that larger quantities of egg, milk and soya remain completely undetected by conventional methods like PCR and ELISA, especially in processed products. This will enable us to help food manufacturers manage risk better, and make their products safer for consumers. ”

Eurofins has more than 12,500 staff in 170 laboratories across 33 countries, offering a portfolio of more than 100,000 analytical methods for evaluating the safety, identity, composition, authenticity, origin and purity of biological substances and products.

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