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Protecting consumers with food allergies should improve with new international guidelines

Date:
March 2, 2010
Source:
European Commission Joint Research Centre
Summary:
New international guidelines should better protect consumers from allergens in food by promoting the harmonized, accurate and reliable testing of potentially lethal food allergens by analytical laboratories worldwide.

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has co-authored new international guidelines which should better protect consumers, by promoting the harmonized, accurate and reliable testing of potentially lethal food allergens by analytical laboratories worldwide.

The guidance document is the result of several years of negotiation by a high-level collaboration of experts from regulatory agencies representing Canada, USA, Australia, Japan, the European Union, academic research institutions, and food allergen test-kit manufacturers, under the auspices of the AOAC (Association of Analytical Communities) Presidential Taskforce on Food Allergens.

For the first time, national authorities carrying out official food allergen controls have a common basis for accepting validated testing methods. Consumers allergic to certain food ingredients will benefit from an increased level of protection by the availability of harmonised and reliable testing methods, and international trade will be facilitated by applying mutually-agreed testing protocols.

Protection through better measurements

The new guide is important because consumers depend on truthful labelling of food products to avoid allergic reactions. Accurate labelling is only possible if an internationally-agreed set of validated testing methods that are reliable and robust is available.

The use of so-called ELISA testing methods (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) to detect food contaminants and residues is fairly well established. However, the new guidance document addresses for the first time the validation of ELISA testing methods for food allergen analysis in a harmonised way.

Food allergens are proteins, which are large and complex molecules. Scientists have to target the right mixture of protein markers in food samples to reliably detect the presence of food allergens. The targeted proteins have to meet multiple criteria, such as the efficiency with which they are extracted from the food sample and the ability to withstand food production processes like roasting and extrusion.

Hope for treating food allergies

Until now, avoidance of the offending food is the only means of protecting allergic persons. New approaches are currently developed to treat food allergy sufferers, thereby improving their quality of life.

The Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom is forging ahead with a new project which is demonstrating a revolutionary approach to treating patients with food allergies. By using a technique called immunotherapy -- where the patient is given the substance they are allergic to -- the Trust will carry out a major trial of peanut oral immunotherapy involving 100 children suffering from peanut allergies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Commission Joint Research Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Commission Joint Research Centre. "Protecting consumers with food allergies should improve with new international guidelines." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100219204411.htm>.
European Commission Joint Research Centre. (2010, March 2). Protecting consumers with food allergies should improve with new international guidelines. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100219204411.htm
European Commission Joint Research Centre. "Protecting consumers with food allergies should improve with new international guidelines." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100219204411.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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