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The Food Allergen Analysis Toolbox: A Short Guide for Food Producers and Laboratories

In this article Bert Popping of the strategic food consulting company, FOCOS looks at some of the options open to food manufacturers and laboratories when it comes to allergen testing.

Most of us know at least one person in our circle of friends or family that has a food allergy or food intolerance. I find it hard to imagine how difficult it is living with a food allergy, with the constant fear of consuming something that might trigger a severe allergic reaction, ensuring you have your epi-pen handy, just in case. And it is not only challenging, but it is also costly. Foods labelled “free-from” are on average 30% more expensive than similar products without such a claim.

Most food manufacturers implement allergen controls and have cleaning validation and regular tests in place to comply with labelling regulations and minimise the risk for consumers. Testing plays a crucial role as it verifies the presence or quantity of adventitious contamination. This information is not only critical to ensure labelling compliance, but it is also an essential component to consider for risk assessment.

For the food manufacturer, there are three major challenges for analytical methods:

  1. cost of the assay
  2. reliability of the assay 
  3. time to result.

In the allergen analysis toolbox, there are different types of methods available, all having their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the most common test methods.

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