May 2013 News Round Up

Gluten in beer

In our May news round up we bring you information about research into the gluten levels in beer, the annual Food Allergen Week through to document entitled ‘Guidance on Food Allergen Management for Food Manufacturers’ to provide evidence-based and consistent information on good practice in allergen management for producers of foodstuffs intended for sale to the general population

Measuring gluten in beer

Researchers based in Canberra, Australia, have used sandwich ELISA to measure the levels of hordein (the gluten protein found in barley) in sixty beers and compared these with the levels determined using multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry. Standard beer contains trace levels of hordeins which are too high to be safely consumed by most coeliacs. However, accurate measurement of trace hordeins by ELISA has long been known to be problematic.

Following their investigations, the study authors found that ELISA results did not correlate with the relative content of hordein peptides determined by mass spectroscopy. They suggest that mass spectrometry is more reliable than ELISA, as it is undertaken using peptides that are specific and unique, enabling the quantification of individual hordein isoforms. ELISA enumerates only the concentration of particular amino-acid epitopes and as this may vary between different hordeins the result may not be related to the absolute hordein concentration.

Reference: Tanner et al. 2013. PLoS One. Vol 8(2):e56452. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056452.

Food Allergen Week 13-19 May

Professor Katie Allen is standing behind the ‘1 in 10’ of Australian infants who will develop a food allergy by leading Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia’s Food Allergy Week (May 13 – 19, 2013). Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia encourage everyone to paint one fingernail out of ten this Food Allergy Week and donate at www.foodallergyaware.com.au

Paediatric gastroenterologist and Allergist Prof Katie Allen from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is leading a major research study into food allergies – the first of its kind in the world. The study aims to understand how to prevent food allergy, how to prevent food allergic children from having adverse events and ultimately how to prevent progression of allergic disease later in life.

Life threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in children aged under five years old have increased fivefold over the last 10 years in Australia. There is no cure. Complete avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic food reaction. Education and management is key.

Fundraising is crucial to help Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia support the thousands of Australians who need information, guidance and advice every day. Go to www.foodallergyaware.com.au to find out more. Paint and donate!

FSANZ Allergen Portal is now live

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has recently launched the Food Allergen Portal, an initiative of the Allergen Collaboration, to facilitate access to information available for the wide range of stakeholders with interests in food allergies and food allergen management. The Allergen Bureau is a key part of the Allergen Collaboration, in addition to input from other key stakeholders, including industry groups such as: Australian Food and Grocery Council; Food and Beverage Importers Association; and the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council. The Allergen Bureau is pleased to see FSANZ initiate this portal and, through this, to play an active role in helping to further communicate about food allergies and food allergen management.

On the webpage ‘Food allergens – information for industry’, the following key points have been listed for food manufacturers and retailers:

  • Implement an effective allergen management plan.
  • Train staff in food allergen risks, management and communication.
  • Provide clear and accurate information on the allergen status of your product.
  • Food manufacturers have a responsibility to manage the unintentional presence of food allergens.

These are all areas that the Allergen Bureau takes an active interest and lead role. We look forward to continue working through the Allergen Collaboration to enhance this new FSANZ initiative and to build on the link provided to the Allergen Bureau.

The portal provides web links to important industry resources, including the Allergen Bureau website. Visit the FSANZ Allergen Portal

Guidance on food allergen management for food manufactures

In early 2013, FoodDrinkEurope, an organisation representing the European food and drink industry, published a document entitled ‘Guidance on Food Allergen Management for Food Manufacturers’ to provide evidence-based and consistent information on good practice in allergen management for producers of foodstuffs intended for sale to the general population.

In releasing this publication, the goal of the organisation is to help ensure a consistent understanding of, and approach to, managing allergens to a high standard throughout the European food industry. This will help minimise the risk to allergic consumers and enable them to make informed product choices.

While the Guidance focuses on prepacked foods intended for sale to the general population, the general principles may also apply to non-prepacked foods. It is intended to be used by the European food and beverage industry, but much of the information relating to risk management is applicable to food manufacturers the world over, given that allergen management should be an integrated part of all food safety assurance strategies. Food companies have a responsibility to establish a food safety management system to comply with legal requirements and should consider the risk from food allergens together with other food safety risks.

The guidance document can be accessed via the FoodDrinkEurope website.

AOAC Food Allergen Community Newsletter

The AOAC Food Allergen Community is a forum serving the scientific community working on Food Allergens. They have recently published their first newsletter for 2013, and are encouraging its widespread distribution.

Topics featured in this issue include:

  • The FDA Request for Information for a Potential Food Allergen Threshold Risk Assessment
  • The AOAC Annual Meeting & Exposition Chicago, IL, August 25-28, 2013
  • The merger of leading U.S. food allergy advocacy organizations to form Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)
  • A short update on gluten detection methods with ELISA
  • The launch of a new AgraQuant® Cashew Kit by Romer Labs.

The Newsletter is a public document and the Allergen Bureau has permission to distribute the current issue to those interested. Please contact us at info@allergenbureau.net. Alternatively, to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an email to AOAC.Allergens@gmail.com with the word ‘Subscribe’ in the subject line.

You can also join the community on Facebook.

Thresold levels and effective avoidance of food allergens – FAAM podcast

During the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting (FAAM), which was held in Nice, France from 7-9 February 2013, threshold levels and effective avoidance of food allergens were discussed. The discussion focused on precautionary food allergen labelling, the science underpinning the establishment of action levels and the work on-going in Europe on these issues.

A podcast has been produced and posted on LinkedIn to extend the discussions from that meeting. The podcast features an interview by Dr. Josephine Wills, Director General of EUFIC, speaking to Dr. Geert Houben, Business Line Manager for Food Safety at TNO in The Netherlands.

The podcast can be accessed via LinkedIn at the following link: Threshold levels and effective avoidance of food allergens.