The Importance of Accurate Allergen Residue Testing

Not to be confused with efforts to detect the sensitivity to certain chemical agents displayed by some individuals, allergen residue testing consists of a procedure aimed at the detection of those substances that are known to be responsible for such sensitivity. It is likely that everyone who may read this article will know of at least one friend, colleague or family member who is sensitive to nuts, gluten or shellfish and even the reader may be aware of foods or cosmetics that he or she would be wise to avoid.

Such sensitivity does not occur as a result of the first exposure. In some cases the body’s immune system will begin to produce antibodies that will then result in sensitisation – a process that may take anything from days to years. More often than not, the result of accidental exposure to some offending material will result in little more than a superficial rash, a runny nose, some localised swelling or a cough although the duration and severity of these symptoms can vary quite considerably between those affected.

On occasions, however, a far more severe type of reaction may occur. This is known as anaphylaxis and rather than being a localised reaction it affects the entire body, usually within minutes of contact. It can impede breathing and swallowing which can rapidly lead to unconsciousness and even death without treatment. From these observations, it is clear that it is in the best interest of consumers and manufacturers alike to ensure that processed foods, beverages, cosmetics and similar materials undergo allergen residue testing to determine whether a given product presents a risk to some of those who may use it.

In March of 2012, radical new regulations governing the labelling of foodstuffs were introduced in South Africa. In addition to the ingredients, preservatives, colorants, the percentages of major nutrients, country of origin, batch number and the use by date, all local and imported products must now list all potential allergenic materials that may be present. To comply with the latter requirement it is first necessary to determine their presence or absence and, for this purpose, a number of highly sensitive test kits are available.

The most common substances cited as the cause of food sensitivities are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, gluten, soy, various shellfish and crustaceans and cereals such as barley, oats, rye and wheat. In each case one or more proteins found in these foods will be the trigger and thus the means by which to detect these specific proteins is a vital part of quality control.

IEPSA offers a range of kits for use in this vital process of allergen residue testing that allows for the accurate and specific detection of significant amounts of each of the offending proteins. As is the case with all of the analytical kits and reagents that we supply, these top quality imported products have been thoroughly tried and tested. Furthermore, these particular kits have long been in widespread use by many of the world’s leading manufacturers of processed foods in countries where these stringent labelling requirements have been in force for a great deal longer than in South Africa.

It does not pay to make assumptions about the composition of anything that undergoes processing prior to human consumption. Although wine may be the fermentation product of grapes it should be borne in mind that agents such as casein, egg white and skim milk are often used as fining agents to reduce astringency, bitterness and cloudiness or to control its colour intensity. Traces of the fining agent may remain and thus allergen residue testing is also vital in this industry. The assays may be reliably conducted using one of our ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) kits that, in meeting the stringent EU requirements, are sufficiently sensitive to detect concentrations down to a lower limit of just 0.25 parts per million.

IEPSA is a specialist supplier of a wide range of specialised diagnostic products and laboratory equipment for use in medicine, pharmaceutical manufacturing, tissue typing for transplantation purposes and, of course, the analysis of foodstuffs. We have been meeting the needs of South African institutions since the company was first formed in 1980 and possess all of the knowledge, expertise and facilities to ensure that every item supplied is in perfect condition. Our guarantee of a quality product backed by expert service has made us a leader in our field and a first choice for those engaged in allergen residue testing.

More Articles

Contact Us:

* Name & Surname:
* Cell / Tel no.:
* E-mail:
Your Message::
* Security Code: