Testing firm expands as food allergies increase

Food testing firm, Exova has expanded its range of allergens testing to cover 14 allergies using the company’s UKAS accredited ELISA (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, Sulphur dioxide

The ELISA method uses components of the immune system and chemicals to detect immune responses in the body. These tests are conducted for food manufacturers and retailers across the globe to identify allergens in a variety of foods.
David Petford, Exova’s head of chemistry and technical services, commented on the expansion: “This is great news for our clients. We have one of the most comprehensive ELISA allergen testing capabilities in the UK and this expansion reinforces not only our range of services, but our expertise and performance in carrying them out.”

Allergens legislation is written under the European Directive (2003/89/EC), ensuring all consumers are given comprehensive ingredient listing information, together with an allergen containing statement, making it easier for people with food allergies to identify ingredients they need to avoid.

The list of allergens, designed for safety in pre-packed foods, indicate the source allergen whenever they, or ingredients made from them, are used at any level in pre-packed foods or alcoholic drinks.

New legislation is coming into force in 2014 under the EU law on food information to consumers, where 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.

According to the FSA, there were more than 50 product recalls in 2011 relating to incorrect allergen labeling information and cross contamination. This represents an increase of 80 per cent on 2010.

The authority also indicates that between 5 per cent and 8 per cent of children and 1 per cent and 2 per cent of adults suffer from a food allergy. As a result, it is estimated that over 500,000 people suffered a sever food allergy in 2011.