Standard tests may miss ingredients that cause milk allergy

The test that detects one of the most common childhood allergens, milk, may be inaccurate, according to a report in San Diego at the 2443rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The way milk proteins are processed changes them, thus making them harder to detect when using the standard ELISA test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). The altered proteins still cause symptoms of milk allergy such as itchy skin, runny eyes, wheezing and others that are more serious.

These results should be used to improve the ELISA test, which is used in food processing machinery to ensure that milk products are free of milk allergens. The ELISA kit contains antibodies that bind to milk proteins, and if a sample of the tested product contains milk proteins, a colour change will indicate contamination. Heating and processing can alter the structure of the protein making it more difficult for the antibody to bind to it, but it does not mean that the milk protein becomes less allergenic to milk allergic consumers.

Source: American Chemistry Society

March 2012

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