Allergens are a growing concern for food producers and people suffering from allergies. European regulations state that any of the 14 designated allergens must be declared on the food packaging if these are contained in the ingredients list.
Allergens can already have a serious impact on allergy sufferers even at very low levels, and, consequently, their unintended presence due to cross contamination is a key concern for the food industry. Allergen control in food and food production requires sound risk management systems (for both prevention and reduction) and surveillance through reliable analyses with adequate sampling and control. For safety assessment or troubleshooting, the relative contamination in the production chain needs to be determined at several locations and time intervals. TNO Triskelion testing strategies and analysis support industry.
Since allergic components may be present in relatively low quantities, there is a need for sensitive analytical methods. Within TNO Triskelion, a variety of methods has been developed for the traceability of small amounts of allergens in the food production chain. ELISA detection methods are especially useful for the detection of the intact allergic protein. In addition, DNA based methods such as PCR provide additional value in the traceability of allergens even after processing. The combination of these two technologies allows reliable detection and tracing of allergens throughout the complete food production chain.