Test for milk allergens not as effective as thought
March 29, 2012
SAN DIEGO — The test used to detect milk-protein residues in processed foods many not work as well as once thought and has the potential to miss ingredients that may cause milk allergy, according to a presentation at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
The thermal and non-thermal processing of foods can change the proteins responsible for milk allergy in ways that make the proteins harder to detect using the standard test, called the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. These potential allergens going undetected may leave milk proteins in foods without warning that are capable of causing itchy skin, runny eyes, wheezing and more serious symptoms of milk allergy. Manufacturers and food-safety agencies have used E.L.I.S.A. tests to make sure equipment and products are free of allergens or labeled properly.
“The results of these studies could be utilized by commercial E.L.I.S.A. kit manufacturers to aid in improving E.L.I.S.A.’s for detection of milk residue in processed food products,” said Joseph Baumert, the leader of the study. “These improved tests can be adopted by the food industry, if necessary, to allow for reliable detection of milk residue regardless of the type of processing that is used. These improvements should not result in commercial tests that are more expensive or difficult for food processors to use.”