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J AOAC Int. 2004 Nov-Dec;87(6):1391-7.

Polymerase chain reaction techniques for food allergen detection.

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  • 1European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements, Retieseweg, 2440 Geel, Belgium.


Food allergies represent an important health problem in industrialized countries. Undeclared allergenic foods as contaminants in food products pose a major risk for sensitized persons. Reliable detection and quantification methods for food allergens are necessary to ensure compliance with food labeling and improve consumer protection. The methods currently used for the detection of potential allergens in foods are to target either the allergen itself or a marker that indicates the presence of the offending food. As markers for the presence of potentially allergenic foods or ingredients, specific proteins or DNA fragments are targeted. In routine food analysis, the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the form of a real-time PCR or in combination with an ELISA have been used. The availability, the characteristics, and some future aspects of DNA-based methods in the rapid and sensitive detection of potentially allergenic food constituents or contaminations are discussed in this review.

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