For the majority of the general public, the consumption of food is harmless. However, it may cause life threatening reactions in food allergic subjects and dramatically restrict the quality of life. Scientists estimate that approximately 2-3 % of adults and 6-8 % of children suffer from food allergies as well as the huge number of persons with food intolerance, their prevalence is difficult to estimate, due to missing studies. In contrast to food intolerance, real food allergies are highly dangerous for patients, because they are caused by errant immune reactions. These reactions are usually triggered by proteins; allergic subjects are already sensitized to these proteins.
The labeling of these allergenic proteins, called allergens, is of great importance for allergic subjects. In this context, hidden allergens are dangerous due to their appearance, for example in convenience food or as unintended contaminations of food during storage and production.
To protect allergic subjects from undesired consumption of allergens, the food labeling regulation of the EU was passed. This EU-regulation is continuously updated and revised (EU-regulation 1169/2011, became effective in December 2014). Since November 2005 food producers are committed to label ingredients, which can cause allergies or intolerance. This includes following substances and food produced from them:
Furthermore, sulfur dioxide and sulfites in a concentration more than 10 milligram per kilogram. Additional, lupine, as well as snails, oysters and mussels were added to the list. Also other countries worldwide have labeling regulations, adapted to country-specific allergens.
In most production lines more than one product is produced, this may result in unintended contaminations with allergens. To protect consumers and to assure an adequate labeling, a reliable allergen analysis must be applied. Therefore, R-Biopharm provides immunochemical as well as molecular biological techniques.
Allergen detection methods
1. Surfaces and hygiene control with lateral flow test strips.
Тhe requirements for allergen-free foods are clean and controlled production conditions. Swab tests of surfaces with bioavid or with RIDA®QUICK test strips enable a fast and reliable control of the production within food companies. With little laboratory equipment, results are available within 5-10 minutes.
2. Food testing by immunochemical or molecular biology technique.
ELISA and PCR are used to analyze food products. The ELISA determines the proteins directly while PCR detects the DNA. These two methods are complementary, and are also used for reciprocal confirmation for screenings and for positive results.