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ELISA kits make allergen testing easier, claims Oxoid

By Mike Stones , 21-Apr-2009

European food manufacturers can now use the ELISA Systems range of food allergen tests kits alongside the regular range of microbiological tests from Oxoid, according to the diagnostics company.

“ELISA tests have been available with Oxoid tests in Australia and New Zealand for several years but this is the first time they have been made available in Europe,” a spokesperson for Oxoid told FoodProductionDaily.com.

The launch, in providing a range of tests from one supplier, will make it easier for food companies to test the allergenic status of their products, confirmed Cheryl Mooney, industrial applications manager at Oxoid.

“In the light of the recently amended legislation and labelling laws, a company’s knowledge of the allergenic status of their products has taken on a new importance.

“It is only by testing that companies can be sure they comply with the legislation, as well as fulfilling their duty of care. It prevents costly recall of products, protects the name and reputation of the brand and, ultimately, could save lives.”

Colour coded bottles

The simple extraction process of ELIZA tests minimises the sample preparation time, according to the company. “All critical test reagents are in a ready to use liquid format, and presented in colour coded bottles, again making the tests quicker and easier to use,” it said in a statement.

Raw materials, finished products and environmental swabs can be tested using the ELISA Systems tests. Subjects include almond, buckwheat, crustaceans, egg, gliadin (or the wheat protein glutenein), hazelnut, milk, mustard, peanut, sesame and soy.

According to a recent survey, 88 per cent of manufacturers use milk; 84 per cent use soy; 78 per cent wheat and 55 per cent peanuts. So, according to the company, it is increasingly important to test food products and ingredients for allergens as part of an allergen HACCP plan to ensure that products have not been contaminated via raw materials, production lines or the environment.

Food products

Earlier this year, Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) validated new methods to test for the presence of fish and molluscs in food products.

The company said that it can now detect all 14 allergens that must be labelled if present in food products, under the provisions of EU Council Directive 2003/89/EC and its amendments; molluscs and lupin were added to list in 2007.

Barbara Hirst, technical manager of RSSL’s DNA and protein laboratories, claims that allergen management is one of the biggest challenges for food manufacturers.

Mislabelling of allergens accounted for about half of all food recalls announced by the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during 2008, she said.

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