Sonia Miguel, technical specialist at the UK based RSSL told this publication that it has validated an ELISA method for buckwheat protein residues in several matrices including potato, maize and wheat flour, biscuits, cakes, sunflower oil and several highly acidic and salty products.
The method, said the company, has a detection limit of 2.5mg/kg of buckwheat flour protein.
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) has been recognized as a common food allergen in Korea and Japan but it is not on the EU list of allergens that must be declared by food manufacturers.
But Miguel claims that a growing body of scientific literature indicates that buckwheat is an emerging allergen in Europe.
The company, she continued, was also prompted to seek out and affirm an ELISA method for buckwheat residue in end products due to the increasing number of free-from foods in the UK and cake and biscuit products in France that have buckwheat as a common constituent.
“Buckwheat is important because it is often used as an alternative to wheat in gluten-free products. While gluten intolerance is not an allergic response, those individuals choosing a gluten-free product may often consider that they are making a simultaneous choice for allergen-free.
Therefore, producers and their consumers need to be better informed about the use and levels of buckwheat in products and the concomitant allergen risk,” said Miguel.
European regulations require that the presence of 14 food groups containing allergens in foods must be declared on the label.
But Miguel argues that European based food processors often work on the precautionary principal and request testing on non-regulated allergens, citing considerable demand for its analysis around kiwi fruit residues.
“On that basis, we are expecting interest from the food manufacturing sector for this additional allergen testing service,” said the technical specialist.