Industry News: Food Allergen Screening Method by SCIEX Receives Official Method Classification from the AOAC INTERNATIONAL

Improved mass spec method nears industrial use, promoting a possible shift in global food allergen testing

19 Mar 2018


SCIEX, a global leader in life science analytical technologies, today announced that its highly sensitive method for analyzing food allergens has received the First Action Official Method (FAOM) classification from AOAC INTERNATIONAL’s Official Methods Board (OMB). Nearly 150 million people worldwide suffer from a food allergy and are allergic to more than one food. Accurate food allergen tests are urgently needed, to help reduce the risk of food labeling errors. It is therefore vital that the industry adopts improved food testing methods, and the SCIEX method is the first mass spectrometry (MS)-based method to receive FAOM classification for allergen screening.

The use of MS technology instead of more traditional methods such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or immunoassay-based approaches gives far greater confidence for detecting allergens in complex food samples. The SCIEX method for Allergen Screening uses liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to analyze a range of food products (both raw and baked goods) by detecting several unique signature peptides that are specific to each allergen. Presently, this method can detect allergenic peptides from five of the major classes of allergenic foods at a detection limit of 10 ppm in a variety of food matrices. Plus, with increased throughput, the ability to identify multiple key allergens at once from a number of different food types, and advanced peptide signature detection, it greatly reduces the chance of false negative and false positive results.

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“Traditional methods such as ELISA and PCR for allergen analysis come with several challenges, including detection accuracy in processed products or the costliness of testing for several allergens in the same sample,” said Dr. Bert Pöpping, FOCOS Consulting. “LC-MS/MS has the potential to overcome these challenges, which is just one reason why it is being adopted by multiple governments and private laboratories for allergen detection.”

The method uses the power and robustness of the QTRAP® 4500 LC-MS/MS System for high throughput trace screening and quantitation of allergens. LC-MS/MS enables comprehensive sample data analysis, making food allergen analysis more accurate and, ultimately, safer for consumers.    

AOAC INTERNATIONAL is a globally recognized, non-profit association that upholds standards in chemical and microbiological analyses. Following the First Action Official Method classification, the organization will initiate a two-year assessment of the unique SCIEX method. If the method’s performance satisfies the review panels, the AOAC will make a recommendation to the OMB for a Final Action Method status. This final status would raise the method’s profile as a chemical analysis process, leading to its further adoption worldwide and an increase in consumer reliability on food allergen information.

“As the food industry’s regulatory requirements continually change, the analytical workload of food testing labs increases, often leading to compromises in the accuracy of results,” said Mark Cafazzo, Director of Academic and Applied Markets at SCIEX.  “SCIEX is dedicated to working closely with scientists, our customers and industry regulators to understand the changing needs of food testing. This AOAC First Action Official Method classification is a great recognition of the power of SCIEX workflow solutions; we enable customers to produce safer foods and more accurate food labeling.” 

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