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Some 8% of children and 2% of adults suffer from food allergies or food intolerance. For some of them the intake of small amounts of an allergen can cause serious health problems. Therefore, from the end of 2005 the presence of all ingredients and especially those known to be a potential source of allergy or intolerance, must be declared on product labels (Directive 2000/13/EC, amended by Food Labelling Directive 2003/89/EC; Directive 2007/68/EC).

Undeclared peanut allergens in food products, often introduced unintentionally during processing, represent a major health threat. Appropriate labelling of allergens in food products is therefore very important for allergic people. This requires that relevant analytical methodology for detection of traces of allergens be established.

IRMM validates immunoassay based methods and rapid dip stick test methods for peanut detection in biscuits and chocolate, and has prepared a peanut test material. Studies on DNA based methods for peanut detection, separation and characterisation of peanut allergenic protein and methods for milk allergen detection are taken up in the IRMM work programme. The effect of food processing on both allergenicity and detectability and thresholds of allergic reactions are being investigated. The IRMM also assists the the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) Panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies (NDA Panel) in establishing scientific opinions regarding allergenic foods.


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Abbott M. Hayward S., Ross W., Benrejeb Godefroy S., Ulberth F., Van Hengel A.J., Roberts J., Akiyama H., Popping B., Yeung J.M., Wehling P., Taylor S.L, Poms R.E., Delahaut P.: "Validation procedures for quantitative food allergen ELISA methods: Community guidance and best practices", Journal of AOAC International 93 (2010) 442-450

A.M. Gomez Galan, M. Brohée, E. Scaravelli, A.J. van Hengel, H. Chassaigne. Development of real-time PCR assays for the detection of lupin residues in food products. European Food Research and Technology, 2010, 230(4), 597-604

Paschke, A., Ulberth, F.: "Allergens in Foods", Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 395 (2009) 15-16

Chassaigne, H; Trégoat, H; Nørgaard, J.V; Maleki S.J; van Hengel, A.J: “Resolution and identification of major peanut allergens using a combination of fluorescence two-dimensional differential gel electrophoresis, Western blotting and Q-TOF mass spectrometry, Journal of Proteomics72 (2009) 511-526

Monaci L., and van Hengel A.J.: Development of a method for the quantification of whey allergen traces in mixed-fruit juices based on liquid chromatography with mass spectrometric detection. Journal of Chromatography A1192, (2008) 113-120

E Scaravelli, M Brohée, R Marchelli, AJ van Hengel (2008) Development of three real-time PCR assays to detect peanut allergen residue in processed food products. Eur Food Res Technol227:857-869

van Hengel, A., Declaration of allergens on food products purchased on the European market, Trends in Food Science and Technology18 (2007) 96 - 100

Monaci, L., van Hengel, A., Effect of heat treatment on the detection of intact Bovine β-lactoglobulins by LC mass spectrometry, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry55 (2007) 2985 - 2992

Chassaigne, H., Nørgaard J., van Hengel A., A proteomics-based approach to detect and identify major allergens in processed peanuts by capillary LC-Q-TOF (MS/MS), Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry55 (2007)  4461 - 4473

van Hengel, A., Food allergen detection methods and the challenge to protect food-allergic consumers, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry389 (2007) 111 - 118

Pele, M., Brohée, M., Anklam, E., van Hengel A., Peanut and hazelnut traces in cookies and chocolates: Relationship between analytical results and declaration of food allergens on product labels. Food Additives and Contaminants24 (2007) 1334 - 1344

van Hengel, A., Capelletti, C., Brohée, M., Anklam, E., Validation of two commercial lateral flow devices for the detection of peanut proteins in cookies: interlaboratory study, Journal of the AOAC International89 (2006) 462 - 468

Monaci, L., Tregoat, V., Hengel, A., Anklam, E., Milk allergens, their characteristics and their detection in food: A review, European Food Research and Technology223 (2006) 149 – 179

Poms, R., Klein, C., Anklam, E., Methods for allergen analysis in food: a review, Food Additives and Contaminants21 (2004) 1-31

Poms, R., Anklam, E., Kuhn, M., Polymerase chain reaction techniques for food allergen detection, Journal of the AOAC International87 (2004) 1391-1397

Poms, R., Anklam, E., Effects of chemical, physical and technological processes on the nature of food allergens, Journal of the AOAC International87 (2004) 1466-1474

Mills, E., Valovirta, E., Madsen, C., Taylor, S., Vieths, S., Anklam, E., Baumgartner, S., Koch, P., Crevel, R., Frewer, L., Information provision for allergic consumers – where are we going with food allergen labelling?, Allergy59 (2004) 1262-1268

Latest update 2 June, 2008

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