Food allergies are a growing concern in the U.S., affecting some 4-6% of school-aged children as well as millions of adults. These allergies can be life-threatening, meaning that food manufacturers bear heavy responsibility for ensuring that traces of allergens don’t get where they don’t belong.
Luckily, food manufacturers have a reliable method for ensuring their food is allergen-free. ELISA, short for enzyme immunosorbent assay, is the gold standard for food-allergen testing in the food production industry. It is widely used due to its “sensitivity, high precision, and good potential for standardization.”
ELISA-based testing kits allow food processors and manufacturers to quickly and reliably test food products and their facility environment for food allergens such as egg, nuts, crustaceans, milk, and soy.
It’s essential that all processors and manufacturers have a validated cleaning protocol that will remove all traces of such allergens from equipment. This is a matter of life and death—If you don’t have an effective protocol of this type in place, you may well put somebody in the hospital or potentially the grave.
ELISA-based testing will tell you whether your cleaning protocol is effective. It should be done annually at minimum, but ideally two to four times a year. How often you should test will depend on how many allergens you use in your facility and on the complexity of your allergen program.
The test in question is not difficult; reputable labs like Biotrax can turn your results around in just a few days. There are many labs out there that may take longer—sometimes so long that you have to put food production on hold and potentially lose revenue while you wait.
If your ELISA-based testing isn’t giving you the results you need, it’s essential to improve cleaning protocols. Biotrax can send a consultant to help your company get the right regimen in place. Important elements of such a regimen include inspecting for streaks or debris after wiping down surfaces and ensuring chemicals sit on the equipment long enough to denature proteins.
Once you have your cleaning protocol and ELISA-based testing regimen down, you can rest assured that your food will be safe for everyone to eat.