Allergen detection method considerations and data gaps must be addressed in the shift toward quantitative, risk-based allergen management strategies, says Dr Melanie Downs of Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
In an article just published in Food Safety magazine, Dr Downs reports that risk-based approaches to managing food allergens are becoming increasingly important in supporting informed allergen management decisions, including when to apply Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL).
Based on new knowledge about dose levels of major food allergens that are likely to cause reactions in people with food allergies, and initiatives such as the Allergen Bureau’s Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL) Program, a globally standardized and transparent framework for allergen risk assessment and labelling seems realistic.
As allergen management becomes increasingly based on threshold levels, there is a greater need to understand the performance criteria for allergen detection methods such as limit of quantification, recovery and precision, and an associated demand for more accurate and precise food allergen analysis. With this, mass spectrometry (MS) is emerging as a precise methodology for food allergen detection and quantification but is not yet widely used.
The goal remains for the food industry to better assess and manage risk, helping to ensure the safety of their products and protection of food allergic consumers.
Access the full article in Food Safety magazine.