Following several incidents in recent years that have highlighted the limitations of ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) – the technique for detecting and quantifying substances such as peptides and proteins – the need for harmonisation and information-sharing across industry is more important than ever.
When allergen testing was established, the view was that one test kit could cover every type of product. But the increased ingredients range means we have become more aware of limitations and issues with cross-reactivity.
To adapt to a fast-changing environment, we have taken several initiatives to ensure we provide reliable, fast and fit-for-purpose results. We redesigned our laboratory layout, improving segregation and further minimising the risk of cross-contamination. Globally, we have established a technical network focused on sharing information and best practice.
We have challenged and revalidated all our methods, going a step further than our standard accreditation requirements and we have recently implemented automation of the ELISA measurement, to offer more accurate results faster.
There should be a focus on an industry-wide harmonisation of standards so that these advances are shared openly. At Eurofins, we are actively engaged, and encourage and support efforts in producing national allergen-testing guidelines. For that to happen, we need the support of the testing sector, the food industry as a whole and – of course – the public, too.
Everyone should be responsible for upholding standards – making sure food products are comprehensively tested and accurately labelled and that information-sharing between testing companies is transparent. This isn’t about competitive edge, or winning business. This is about safety, and reducing the risk allergy sufferers take every time they eat something.