3M expands allergen testing portfolio

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

3M has acquired a manufacturer of test kits that help companies ensure products are free from allergens.

Elution Technologies was bought from Bia Diagnostics and Immunology Consultants Laboratory for an undisclosed price and has one site in Colchester, Vermont.

The firm was founded in 2012 by Thom Grace, CEO of Bia Diagnostics and John G. Leslie, president of Immunology Consultants Laboratory in response to demand for better detection methods for food allergens.

It used staff from its parent companies and does not have any employees.

More than 160 foods can cause allergic reactions. Each year in the US, it is estimated that anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction) to food results in 2,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths.

Allergen testing demand

Industry uses precautionary labelling such as “may contain…” but there are still recalls due to unlabelled allergens.

Different allergen rules

Allergens in EU: Celery, Cereals containing gluten, Crustaceans, Eggs, Fish, Lupin, Milk, Molluscs, Mustard, Nuts, Peanuts, Sesame seeds, Soya, Sulphur dioxide (sulphites)

Australia’s allergy list: Peanut, tree nuts (e.g. pecan and hazelnut), cow’s milk, egg, fish, shellfish (e.g. prawns, lobster), sesame, soy, lupin and gluten-containing cereals

Allergens in US: Milk, Eggs, Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp), Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), Peanuts, Wheat, Soybeans

The lack of correlation between precautionary labelling and presence of allergens leads allergenic people to sometimes ignore labelling.

The Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 changed European allergen labelling rules in December 2014.

3M said testing for potentially harmful allergens has become increasingly important to processors and their customers.

ELISA and lateral flow kits

Eric Amann, 3M global marketing manager, said food and beverage companies assess each product they make for allergen cross contamination risk and develop and control a testing plan around that.

“They may take into consideration which markets that product is being sold into. They may also choose to test for and disclose on their label additional allergens that go beyond a particular country’s list of allergens,” ​he said.

“Having a broad portfolio of allergen tests to choose from ensures that all possible customer needs can be taken care of.”

3M acquired 20 ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test kits for allergens including peanut, egg white and bovine milk and 13 lateral-flow test kits for allergens including peanut, soy protein and gluten.

It also adds test kits for environmental samples to 3M Food Safety’s existing total protein tests.

“Elution Technologies’ test kits offer proven technology with an easy-to-use design that delivers fast and accurate results for companies offering peanut-free, gluten-free and other specialized foods for people with certain sensitivities and allergies​,” said Polly Foss, general manager at 3M Food Safety.

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