Perspectives in the service laboratories

Laboratories primarily use ELISA kits and while sensitivity is considered satisfactory, recoveries in some matrices are not – opinions diverge about thresholds and the need for multiplex methods.

The allergen testing laboratory point of view is interesting because laboratories operate between test kit manufacturers and food businesses. Allergen testing is a growing business with a significant segment in a market (food safety testing services) that has a value (2018) of at least 7 billion US dollars worldwide (including gluten testing). Various market studies report the allergen testing segment as already worth at least 500 million US dollars worldwide. While it is unclear whether or not the prevalence of food allergies is actually increasing, it is a matter of fact that industries and retailers are demanding more and more analytical services and analytical products for allergen testing, particularly in Europe and North America. Below are interviews with managers from 3 labs specialized in allergen testing. 

THE LABSStylab, located in Moscow, is the only accredited Russian laboratory for testing all food allergens. It is also the Russian dealer of FAPAS, the leading proficiency test provider from the UK.Food Allergens Labs consist of 4 independent laboratories, located in central and southern Greece, Cyprus, and Poland. FAL has extensive experience testing food allergens and they also produce several Reference Materials for validation and quality assurance of allergen testing.Eurofins a world-leading food and feed testing laboratory group, deploying a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art analytical techniques. Eurofins Analytic Gmbh is located in Germany where they have a highly specialized allergen test unit at their Hamburg campus.

While the market appears to be growing, it also faces challenges. Let’s first have a look at what is happening in Russia. Alexandr Galkin of Stylab says: “The situation here in Russia is controversial: there is formal regulation, but it is not fully applied. The Russian labeling regulation is similar to the European one; in fact, it is necessary to indicate 14 allergens on the label, as in Europe. There is also special attention paid to gluten-free foods and to foods intended for those who have special dietary needs. At the same time, there is no public awareness and we have no consumer organizations for people with allergies, just some organizations for people with celiac disease. We are the only accredited Russian laboratory for all types of allergens and the requests for testing and kits mainly come from foreign companies (like international companies operating in Russia).” The European allergen-testing market, on the other hand, faces different circumstances. “It is not only the market as such that evolves, but also the customer base,” commented Roberto Lattanzio of Eurofins Hamburg. “Mainly, we are observing an increase in demand from our ever more diversified customer base. As the allergen issue is somewhat unique and hard to handle, some global food players have been slow and cautious to implement their own allergen management systems. Ultimately, however, many companies have comprehensively imand extensive monitoring of their whole food supply chain. Most recently, some companies have prompted all the stakeholders in their supply chain to take action. Today, there are not only the major global players who are active in the field, but eve

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