Food allergen analysis is the testing of a material or a surface to identify and/or quantify the presence of a food allergen. Analytical test results are a useful tool for allergen management in food processing and may be used to enhance an allergen management plan and can be a valuable tool for a risk–based approach to allergen management. Test results can provide assurance and verification of critical controls within a comprehensive allergen management plan and assist the implementation of quantitative risk assessment. Analysis has a critical place in allergen management but is not a substitute for a robust allergen management plan and requires a clear understanding of the limitations of analysis.

Food allergen analysis is useful to:

  • establish allergen status of ingredients
  • identify equipment that is difficult to clean
  • inform the risk assessment
  • confirm VITAL® (Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling Program) assumptions
  • verify final product status in high risk environments
  • monitor effect of critical changes

Allergen analysis has a place in finished product testing and verifying free from claims, but a single test result should not be considered in isolation and choosing the correct type of analysis and test can be complex. The analysis should be appropriate for the matrix and allergen and the method chosen should be robust, reliable, repeatable, sensitive and specific. As with all food testing methods, results are only representative of the samples tested and it is of critical importance to use an appropriate risk-based Sampling plan.