Nutrilab has started, in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Waters Chromatography B.V., Intertaste B.V. and Allergenen Consultancy, a project to develop a new method for the determination of allergens in food products. This is in addition to the already existing and extensive RvA-accredited package of allergen analyses using ELISA and PCR.
Food allergens are substances that can provoke allergic reactions. These allergens – primarily proteins – can be present in certain ingredients. The European Union has established that 14 of these allergens, if present in foods, must be mentioned on the label. An allergic reaction can have major consequences – from abdominal pains or nausea to skin rash, swelling in the mouth, and anaphylactic shock. Therefore it is important to detect allergens in food. The current techniques for this are ELISA and PCR. Both techniques have disadvantages: with ELISA, only one allergen at a time can be determined; with PCR there is a chance of obtaining a false negative.
A new analytical technique for the determination of allergens is liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. With this technique it is possible to quantify, selectively and with a high level of sensitivity, multiple allergens simultaneously in a single analysis. We can also identify different allergen varieties (such as those in nuts) using this technique.