The Allergen Testing Special Interest Group (AT-SIG) was first convened as a joint initiative of the Allergen Bureau and the National Measurement Institute (NMI) to provide an opportunity for those involved in allergen analysis to meet and discuss the complexities of allergen testing. AT-SIG aims to bring together all stakeholders interested in food allergen analysis and participants include: regulatory and private laboratories; allergen kit manufacturers and distributors; regulatory agencies; researchers; and food industry members.
The 10th meeting of the AT-SIG was held on the 19 November 2018 in Melbourne. An ambitious program attracted 45 delegates who were welcomed by Dean Clarke from the NMI and Robin Sherlock on behalf of the Allergen Bureau. Presenters included representatives from the Allergen Bureau, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), R-Biopharm, Romer Labs, Food Technology Association of Australia (FTAA) and ELISA Systems who all provided updates on current relevant activities.
Dr. Jason Tye-Din (Walter & Eliza Hall Institute) detailed the clinical issues associated with coeliac disease, the impact of ongoing low-level gluten consumption and the food industry’s compliance with the production of gluten free foods. A recent study of gluten free food indicated that the majority of products sampled complied with the ANZ Food Standards Code requirements but that there continues to be room for improvement. (https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2018/209/10/gluten-gluten-free-manufactured-foods-australia-cross-sectional-study).
Fiona Jones (Office of the Chief Health Officer, Victoria) outlined the new legislative requirement for notification of hospitalisation presentations of anaphylaxis in Victoria and the potential for improving our understanding of the triggers for anaphylaxis in the community.
Adrian Rogers (Romer Labs) presented a balanced view of personal detection systems for food allergens and discussed the question of whether the devices are fit for purpose.
Dr Rachel Peters (Murdoch Children’s’ Research Institute) highlighted the research into food allergy being carried out at the Murdoch Children’s’ Research Institute including the concept of the 5 D’s. (Dry skin, Diet, Vitamin D, Dribble and Dirt and Dog). (For further information on this topic please see Reference: Allen & Koplin. 2016. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. In Practice. pii: S2213-2198(15)00574-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2015.10.01).
Joanne Price (HJ Langdon) discussed the complex impact of agricultural practices on allergen management and cross contact and the associated analytical challenges. Dr. Martina Koeberl (NMI) presented work done by NMI to look at the performance of the Lupin detection kits and possible cross reactivities with similar legumes. (Koeberl et. al. 2018. Food Chemistry, Volume 256, p105-112 doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.02.043). James Roberts (NMI) updated the audience on recent highly publicised court cases and posed a range of questions related to the changing world environment and the potential impact on food allergy and the food industry.
NMI and the Allergen Bureau look forward to continuing to support the allergen analytical community through the AT-SIG. For further information regarding the AT-SIG please contact Dean Clarke (Dean.Clarke@measurement.gov.au) or the Allergen Bureau (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Authors: Martina Koeberl on behalf of NMI and Robin Sherlock for the Allergen Bureau.