Recent analytical developments in allergen analysis

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New assay for measurement of gluten in oats and avoiding false negatives in the analysis of milk substitutes.  


While there are many kits available for the detection of gluten from wheat, barley and rye, there has not been a reliable kit for the detection of oat prolamins until now.  ELISA Systems has recently released a kit for the detection of oats in foods (ESOAT-48), the first of its kind.  The ELISA Systems Oat Protein Detection kit specifically detects oat avenins allowing quantitative detection of oat gluten, therefore fulfilling a much-needed role in the gluten analysis of food.     

The ELISA Systems Oat Protein Detection Kit does not cross react with prolamins from wheat, barley and rye thus providing a sensitive and specific assay for the detection of oats in foods.  This kit provides a valuable tool for confirming the gluten-free status of foods and the protection of gluten-intolerant consumers.


Dairy-free milks: critical analytical considerations for allergen management  

Consumption of plant-based milk alternatives has seen rapid growth over the last few years, a demand that continues to increase.  This is a result of several factors, including perceived and actual lactose intolerance, milk protein allergies, health benefits and the growing Vegan market (Yang and Dharmasena 2021).

Soy and nut-based drinks have often undergone extensive processing, especially if the product is to be stored at ambient temperature, where ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatments are commonly used. This type of processing can induce alterations in protein structure/conformation that can significantly impact immunoreactivity (De Angelis et al. 2018).  We have recently confirmed the dramatic effect that such processing can have on immunological-based detection of allergenic proteins in a variety of almond drink samples (see Figure 1).

Figure 1:  ELISA analysis of almond drink samples for the presence of almond protein.  Samples were analysed using the ELISA Systems Almond Assay (ESARD), the ELISA Systems Almond Drink Assay (ESALMK) and a widely used alternative commercial assay for almond.  The samples consisted of a variety of different brands of almond drinks, processed to be stable at ambient temperature, and with manufacturer indicated almond levels ranging from 2.5% to 10%.    


Whereas the ELISA Systems Almond assays were highly effective in measuring the high level of almond protein present, a widely used commercial almond ELISA assay was essentially unable to detect the almond present. Interestingly, the same marked discrepancy in detection ability between the ELISA Systems Almond Assays and those from some other manufacturers also occurred with almond yoghurt, presumably due to the use of UHT treated almond milk. Although protein modification by UHT treatment appears to prevent subsequent allergen detection by some commercial assays, such products can still elicit anaphylactic reactions in at least some allergic consumers.  

Since inadvertent exposure to these dairy alternatives can occur via incorporation as an ingredient, cross-contact during processing, or production/labelling errors, suitable analytical methods to allow sensitive monitoring are a crucial aspect of allergen management plans to protect allergi

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