Allergen testing is a vital safeguarding process required for all food production, manufacturers, and any kind of hospitality or industry working in or around food consumption. By law, any presence of food allergens must be labelled on a pre-packaged food item and businesses selling loose food must also specify potential allergens. This also means that the potential for any cross-contamination must also be mentioned.
What is a food allergen and is it an intolerance?
It is important to remember that food intolerances are different from food allergies even though the symptoms can similarly present themselves. Food intolerances occur when the body reacts to eating and digesting a particular food. An allergic reaction is caused by the immune system reacting to a harmless substance, which is known as an allergen.
Food allergens are substances that provoke allergic reactions when consumed in food, drink, sauces, and sometimes even just by exterior physical contact. Symptoms of a moderate to severe food allergy can vary to include respiratory difficulties, swollen or itchy mouth, lips, tongue and throat, nausea and/or vomiting, bloating, diarrhoea, and even hay fever-like symptoms such as itchy or red eyes and a runny nose. If you think you are having an allergic reaction to a food, it is important to identify the source of this reaction to avoid any short or long term effects.
While technically, any food can be classed as an allergen if it causes an allergic reaction, there are 14 main allergens that UK food business must list under food law. As legislation requires that the presence of food allergens be clearly labelled on packaging, allergen management to eliminate and prevent cross-contamination is crucial.
The 14 allergen groups are:
- Celery and celeriac.
- Cereals containing gluten, wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut and hybrid species.
- Crustaceans and shellfish.
- Lupin seeds and flour, which are commonly used in pasta, bread, and pastries.
- Milk and dairy products.
- Mustard and mustard seeds.
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and peanuts.
- Sesame seeds and oils.
- Soybeans (edamame beans) and soya-based products including soya lecithin found in most food items.
- Sulphur Dioxide and sulphites (often used to preserve food).
How to ensure your organisation is safe from food allergens.
Taking the necessary precautions to manage and prevent any contamination caused by allergens is vital. Risk assessments, line management, and careful monitoring must be implemented, along with regular hygiene monitoring and allergen testing in the hospitality and manufacturing industries.
The use of specific allergen testing allows you to target and identify specific allergenic protein residues on surfaces after cleaning has taken place. Antibody-based rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests can be used for detection or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests to quantify proteins present on a surface.
Where multiple allergens are handled on-site, different methods of detection, cleaning and validation may be required, and the effectiveness of cleaning procedures must be validated and documented. Validation should be done by accredited testing methods and wherever possible quantifiable. Lateral flow tests and ATP testing can be used but are suitable for verification only.
As well as being used for environmental monitoring, many LFD allergen tests from Hygiena™ and 3M™ can be used on a raw product, liquid and solid end-product and CIP rinse water to detect allergen residue.
ALLERGEN TESTS AVAILABLE AT GEM SCIENTIFIC
At Gem Scientific, we understand how important it is to find the correct equipment to ensure that your organisation can properly carry out accurate allergen testing for environmental monitoring. Here are the most accurate and simple to use allergen tests available right now:
- Rapid immunochromatographic lateral flow test
- Designed for allergen detection in internal Quality Control.
- User-friendly tests for the detection and qualification of main food allergens without the need for lab equipment or scientific knowledge.
- Quick and Reliable with results in 10 minutes
- Can be used for testing environmental surface, liquids (rinse water and product) and food samples
- No special equipment required
- Convenient and quick sample collection requires minimal training
- HACCP, ISO 2200, BRC and IFS Compliant
- Tests available for gluten, milk (casein, B-lactoglobulin and total milk), almond, egg, peanut, hazelnut, walnut, soy, mustard, crustacean and fish.
- Also available: Hygiena™ AllerSnap Rapid Protein Residue Swabs and AllerFlow Gluten Swabs.
3M™ Rapid Allergen Test
- Our 3M™ Rapid Allergen Test detects specific allergen proteins that are the most common food allergens.
- Our rapid tests can detect allergens such as almond, cashew, walnut, milk, hazelnut, gluten, coconut, egg white, fish, peanuts, soy, pistachio and pecan proteins.
- Using a lateral flow device, this immunochromatographic test method uses antibodies that are specifically used to detect certain proteins.
- Each 3M™ Rapid Allergen Test is designed to detect processed and unprocessed allergen proteins.
- Our 3M™ Rapid Allergen Test accepts environmental swab, CIP water rinse, and also food samples.
- Also available: 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Surface Protein (Allergen) Swabs.
Neogen® 3-D Reveal®
- Our Neogen® 3-D Reveal® will provide a rapid response to the detection of allergens in 10 minutes.
- It’s a simple to use and disposable testing method with an approximate testing time of only 5 minutes.
- Each of our Neogen® 3-D Reveal needs to be refrigerated at 2-8ºC.
- Test results appear across a handheld device containing strips that react to the sample to confirm the test was successful and which allergens are present.
- To extract a food sample, each kit requires the 3-D Food Buffer and graduated 50 ml polypropylene test tubes.
- Each kit contains 10 single-use tests which can detect the presence of the most common food allergens.
- One Neogen® 3-D Reveal test kit contains 1 sealed foil pouch containing 10 beige Reveal 3-D test devices aimed at detecting a specific allergen, 10 sachets with Type 8 Extraction Buffer, 10 sample tubes and caps, 10 sterile swabs with break out tips each packaged separately, and 1 bottle of swab wetting solution.
- Tests available for gluten, gliadin, total milk, almond, egg, peanut, hazelnut, soy, crustacea, multi treenut, mustard, coconut and sesame.
HYGIENA ALLERGEN MANAGEMENT VIDEO SERIES
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Allergen testing is vital for food production, manufacturing, and hospitality industries to produce products safely and to inform of any potential allergens residue remaining after environmental cleaning.
Quality allergen testing, regular inspections, and thorough cleaning along with our allergen testing technology will ensure that rapid action is implemented to prevent any potential hazards from slipping through the net.
We provide a personal service to fit the needs of your business and our team works with companies to understand their unique requirements and necessary solutions to implement.
Contact us today to discuss how we can help you work towards your goals:
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