Food Allergens Testing Information

Identifying allergens in foods

Allergens pose a health risk, with up to 5% of the world’s population affected. Food allergen detection and quantification of proteins and protein residues is essential for safety and food labeling purposes.

LC-MS/MS using high-resolution accurate mass (HRAM) instrumentation is able to screen for whole proteins following tryptic digestion. This technique allows for the identification of multiple allergenic peptides in a food. The result can be that only one injection is required, making it an ideal tool for both qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Allergen testing is commonly carried out using ELISA and PCR techniques. In food manufacturing labs these techniques are quick, easy to use, and cost effective, and are used with a wide variety of foodstuffs. However, as developments have been made, it has been shown that certain proteins in processed foods such as eggs and milk can be difficult or even impossible to detect. Analytical techniques such as LC-MS/MS allow multiple allergens to be detected in a single analysis, with fewer false negatives, greater sensitivity, specificity, accuracy and reliability.

The most common food allergens are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish


Allergens must be clearly stated by manufacturers on food labels, showing food source ingredients, additives and possible contamination of products where machinery is used for multiple processes. Failure to do so can lead to serious health and financial consequences for the industry.

There are various regulations throughout the world. Europe references EU regulation number 1169/2011 , which provides food information to consumers, requiring labeling and mandatory allergen information. The USA has The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 . The act includes all foods apart from those regulated by other Federal agencies; these are poultry, most meats, certain egg products and the majority of alcoholic beverages.

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