Food allergens in prepacked foods
Date: February, 2018
Accurate labelling of prepacked food products is essential for food hypersensitive consumers to make safe food choices. In this study, food products were selected for gluten or peanut allergen analysis (sometimes both) based on an analysis of product recalls in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland between 2011 and 2017. The samples were analysed using commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (q-PCR) for verification purposes. The outcome of the peanut analyses was inconclusive as a cross-reaction with other allergenic proteins in the food matrices could not be discounted. The food products that tested positive for peanut listed some form of tree nuts or legumes as ingredients on the label.
Nonetheless, the findings from the first enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay screening using 2 different kits were a cause for concern as several products had peanut levels in excess of 20 parts per million and any precautionary allergen labelling referred only to nuts. The gluten analyses showed that the use of the advisory statement “gluten-free” was robust and reliable. Just one product had detectable gluten in both screenings and this was well below the threshold for “gluten-free” labelling. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction proved to be an ineffective method for quantifying peanut allergen or gluten in this study.