The Journal of AOAC International has published a special issue dedicated to food allergens, with all 25 manuscripts available with open access.
The Allergen Bureau team contributed a paper that sets out the role of the Allergen Bureau and the Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL®) Program from its origin in 2007 to its current iteration, VITAL 2.0. They outline the scientific principles that support the VITAL Program; the Program’s application in the food chain; and the benefits of VITAL’s use to the food industry, clinicians, and the allergic consumer.
Further to this, Jupiter Yeung, Nestlé, and his colleague Marie-Claude Robert discuss the science behind determining allergen thresholds for food labelling purposes, and recommend that VITAL 2.0 be universally adopted as a risk assessment and risk management tool for precautionary allergen labeling. They also propose a standardised message for precautionary labelling, such as “may contain x,” to make it easy to understand for allergic consumers. The need for validated fit-for-purpose allergen methods to be used to meet analytical requirements is also called for.
The special issue is jam-packed with other features, including a detailed look at the analytical work that went on ‘behind the scenes’ in 2015 when it was alleged global supplies of cumin were contaminated with almond. Cross-reactivity of the almond ELISA to Prunus species was confirmed, and two novel PCR assays were developed specifically for Prunus mahaleb and common Prunus DNA. Peptides unique to almond and P. mahaleb were identified, enabling protein mass spectrometry to be carried out. This work provides an important template for future investigation should similar incidents arise.
Other topics in this edition include country-specific approaches to food allergen labelling and regulation, and many different aspects of analytical methods used to detect allergens in food.
The issue was guest edited by Bert Popping and Carmen Diaz-Amigo, who have also just distributed the latest edition of the AOAC Food Allergen Community Newsletter which features the abstracts of each of the papers, as well as links to the full articles. Alternatively, all of the articles are currently available ahead of print in the fast-track section of the J AOAC International website.