Fapas, the proficiency testing arm of Fera Science Ltd, has launched a new range of allergen reference materials.
The new materials will enable laboratories around the world to comprehensively evaluate and compare their methods and capabilities when testing food samples for allergens.
Allergens are some of the protein components of foods. The most common technique to measure these proteins is an antibody-based system, typically a commercial ELISA kit which consists of an extraction procedure, suitable antibodies and a calibrator. Alternatives such as DNA-based methods are less effective as they are indirect indicators of allergenic materials, while new mass spectrometric methods – which could be more precise – are still in development. These alternatives are also more expensive than ELISA kits for laboratories to purchase.
ELISA kits are inexpensive, easy to use and there are several manufacturers producing them. The principal problem with them, however, is that the results of different kits cannot be compared because they measure different parts of the allergens or are calibrated differently. The food testing industry is crying out for appropriate reference materials to resolve this issue.
Mark Sykes, senior scientist in proficiency testing for Fera, said: “Currently there are no methods to properly compare ELISA kits and standardise the different systems. As a result, up until now there has been no means of producing reliable reference materials to provide a means of calibration.
“Fapas, a global leader in proficiency testing, has now developed allergen reference materials that will allow food laboratories to evaluate their methods and results. This will lead to more uniform testing, safer foods – and ultimately, we hope, fewer allergen related health issues.”