Food labs gear up for allergen tests

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Risk, Asthma, Kraft foods

Food labs gear up for allergen tests
Independent food laboratories are gearing up to meet increasing demand for their services from manufacturers and retailers as incidents related to allergens in foods increase.

Not only has the increasing number of people suffering from allergies led to greater demand from food and drink manufacturers for allergen testing, rising incidents of mislabelling in the supply chain are pushing up the number of product recalls associated with unlabelled allergens.

Consequently more manufacturers are also seeking advice to improve their allergen risk management procedures.

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), there were more than 50 product recalls in 2011 relating to incorrect allergen labelling information and cross contamination. This represents an increase of 80% on 2010.

Some experts suggest that between 5% and 8% of children and 1% and 2% of adults suffer from a food allergy.

Pre-packed foods

New legislation is coming into force in 2014 under the EU’s Food Information Regulation in which allergen information will have to be provided on all food, whether sold pre-packed or loose. For pre-packed foods, the allergens will also have to be highlighted on the ingredient list.

In response to increased demand for its services, which it anticipates to increase even more in the future, food testing firm Exova has expanded its range of allergen testing for manufacturers and retailers.

Exova’s range of allergens testing now cover 14 allergies using the company’s UKAS-accredited enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay testing method. These added allergens include:casein, crustaceans, egg, β-lactoglobulin, lupin, mustard, peanut, sesame, soya, and tree nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut).
This increases Exova’s range of allergenic and intolerance food testing which also includes: gluten, histamine, lactose and sulphur dioxide.

Risk management

Meanwhile, Reading Scientific Services (RSSL), which also offers its expertise in allergen risk assessment and risk management to food industry clients, has marked its 25th anniversary with the opening of four expanded and refurbished laboratories, new office areas and a new reception.

The new laboratory space at RSSL, now owned by Kraft Foods, is just part of a programme of investment in laboratories, new equipment and recruitment which is taking place during 2012. It follows a large investment at RSSL last year [hot link]. For more information, click here​.

RSSL employs about 300 staff and provides analytical, training and consultancy services to a wide range of customers in the food, drink, pharmaceutical, healthcare and cosmetic manufacturing sectors.

Related topics: Food Safety, Hygiene, safety & cleaning

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