At Technopole Tulln the University of Natural Ressources and Applied Life Sciences opened a new Christian Doppler Pilot Labor for rapid test systems for allergenic food contaminants.
About the pilot lab:
Finished food products may contain a wide range of contaminants from both natural and anthropogenic sources. Allergenic proteins are an example for naturally occurring contaminants which have to be avoided by the allergic consumer. In the past decade, research on cumulative risks, exposure, and long-term effects has raised awareness for the control of health risks from food contaminants. Rapid identification of food contamination is needed to guarantee safe food of known origin ("from farm to fork" concept) and further to apply to governmental food guidelines and regulations. For this purpose, novel analytical methods especially rapid test systems are necessary for the development of risk assessment tools and for the enforcement of compliance policies.
In the field of food allergen analysis, with the absence of clear threshold levels and the risk associated with cross-contamination, analytical methods for food allergen testing are essential in supporting decision-making in risk assessment management situations. New test systems will allow generating more information, which is of most importance in the dynamic field of allergen analysis where knowledge gaps must be filled. According to the EC Directive 2003/89/EC, the availability of validated methods is essential to declare both the presence and the amount of allergenic materials intentionally present as ingredients or adventitiously present (hidden allergens) in food products.
Most product recalls due to undeclared allergens concern milk, eggs, and peanut in e.g. Canada (Health Canada). These three allergenic foods and additionally tree nuts will therefore be chosen as target components for test development within the proposed Christian Doppler Laboratory for Rapid Test Systems for Allergenic Food Contaminants. For this purpose, protein extraction and isolation methods will be used and further developed if required as for not commercially available proteins (e.g. hazelnut proteins) and further optimized for allergen characterisation and identification both in the raw and refined state. The selected allergenic/marker proteins will be used as immunogens for antibody production as further described below. Rapid immunoanalytical tools will be developed for food allergens and marker proteins. The applications to be used in the project will include enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assays (ELISA), lateral flow devices/dipsticks, immuno-based sensors (e.g. surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and electrochemical biosensors) and micro arrays/biochips (e.g. fluorescence-based detection) to be developed. The proposed test systems will allow developing complementary methods for a selected contaminant which will enable both qualitative and quantitative determination, according to the needs and required application e.g. laboratory-based or on-site analytics.
The goal of the proposed Christian Doppler Laboratory for Rapid Test Systems for Allergenic Food Contaminants will therefore be to develop rapid analytical test systems for the rapid identification of contaminants obtaining new tools for the control of health risks guaranteeing safe food.
Dr. Sabine Baumgartner University of Natural Ressources and Applied Life Sciences Dept. IFA-Tulln Konrad Lorenz Str. 20 A-3430 Tulln Tel: +43-2272 66280 413 Fax: +43-2272 66280 403