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.
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:
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.
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:
3M™ Rapid Allergen Test
Neogen® 3-D Reveal®
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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