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A critical review of the specifications and performance of antibody and DNA-based methods for detection and quantification of allergens in foods

Senyuva, Hamide Z.
Jones, Ivona Baricevic
Sykes, Mark
Baumgartner, Sabine
Despite the availability of a large number of antibody and DNA based methods for detection and quantification of allergens in food there remain significant difficulties in selecting the optimum technique to employ. Published methods from research groups mostly contain sufficient detail concerning target antigen, calibration procedures and method performance to allow replication by others. However, routine allergen testing by the food industry relies upon commercialised test kits and frequently the suppliers provide disappointingly little specification detail on the grounds that this is proprietary information. In this review we have made a critical assessment of the published literature describing the performance of both commercial and non-commercial test kits for food allergens over the period 2008-2018. Mass spectrometric methods, which have the potential to become reference methods for allergens, are not covered in this review. Available information on the specifications of commercial ELISA and LFD test kits are tabulated for milk, egg and peanut allergens, where possible linking to publications concerning collaborative studies and proficiency testing. For a number of commercial PCR test kits, specifications provided by manufacturers for detection of a small selection of allergen are tabulated. In conclusion we support the views of others of the critical need for allergen reference materials as the way forward to improve the comparability of different testing strategies in foods.