Focus on Gluten
Gluten is the most common food allergen and industry has responded by introducing a vast range of gluten-free produce. At Genon we offer analytical services to verify absence or quantify the presence of gluten in food samples and environmental swabs.
Gluten sensitivity is often associated with Coeliac Disease, although it is not limited to those diagnosed with the illness. The most common symptoms of any gluten sensitivity relate to digestive discomfort and gastrointestinal disorders. Wheat allergy is different to gluten sensitivity and can result in anaphylaxis and nausia.
Genon offers a choice of gluten and wheat analysis. For advice on the most appropriate method to choose please contact us.
Our back to lab services are carried out using Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) technique which is based on an antigen-antibody interaction to allergenic proteins. Genon maintains UKAS accreditation on 2 different gluten tests to ensure we can provide a comprehensive range of tests. This enables Genon to guarantee accredited service should one test supplier have technical or supply difficulties. Furthermore the different tests use different antibodies and extraction methods which puts Genon in a unique position to be able to challenge results from one test with an alternative and to investigate complex sample types through varying methodologies. The ‘first choice’ method for gluten is the R5 using the Ridascreen kit (Genon method MET021). This test uses the Mendez Cocktail extraction and is the Codex recommended method.
Although both tests assess gluten presence, they vary in terms of extraction method and antibody. These differences result in varying specificity, recovery and quantitation limits. If you are unsure which test to select or whether our first choice method is appropriate please contact us with details of the sample and any local legislative or specific consumer/retailer requirements.
We also offer qualitative allergen detection, ideal for due diligence monitoring – this service is available on all allergen analysis (except lactose).
For gluten on-site test kits visit our Test in a Box website. These tests take less than 15 minutes from start to finish and give an instant result. They are most useful for environmental swab analysis but can be proven to work on raw material and finished samples following validation.
Testing fermented products such as beer is complex and obtaining accurate results cannot be assumed in standard sandwich ELISA tests (the format of the R5 Mendez and Omega Gliadin tests). For such samples a Competitive ELISA is recommended as this is capable of detecting hydrolised proteins and providng accurate measures of gliadin peptides.
As a specialist analytical laboratory we have always been proud of our understanding of these tests and our ability to advise customers to ensure the test results they obtain are true to the sample provided. The competitive gluten test is rarely performed and not available in many other testing laboratories; for commercial rather than technical reasons. Why offer two gluten tests when one will do? Well we are of the opinion that one will not do – not when it is entirely inappropriate for the sample. That’s why we actually have 3 different gluten tests in our range and would be willing to extend this if technical justification were there.
As one of few labs offering this test, we decided to go one step further. Genon is now the ONLY laboratory in the world offering this test with UKAS accreditation. This demonstrates the quality of analysis taking place at Genon and providers retailers with the reassurance they so often demand.
Oh, and all of this expertise is available at Genon’s usual low prices and with a 2 day turnaround as standard. Same day service available!
The rules are laid out in Commission Directive 2003/89/EC which came into force on in 2004 and was amended in 2006. This directive lists 14 ingredients that are known to cause allergies and intolerances. New legislation comes into force in December 2014, meaning these obligations will also apply to foodservice (currently excluded).
Under current legislation, for prepackaged foods and alcoholic drinks, any of the 14 listed ingredients must be clearly labelled if they, or any products made from, are used at any level in foodstuffs including alcoholic drinks. The ingredients are: cereals containing gluten; crustaceans; fish; eggs; peanuts; soybeans; milk; nuts (namely, almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan nut, brazil nut, pistachio nut, macadamia/Queensland nut); celery; mustard; sesame seeds; lupin; mollusc; sulphur dioxide and sulphites at levels above 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre expressed as SO2.
At present only gluten has a legally enforced maximum levels for allergen content in foodstuffs. Legislation introduced in January 2012 details the following with regard to gluten:
- Gluten-free foods (naturally or where gluten has been removed) – levels of gluten must not exceed 20ppm
- Reduced gluten – levels must be between 20 and 100ppm
This means anything containing gluten above 100ppm cannot be labelled as gluten-free, suitable for Coeliacs, etc.
Recent changes in legislation mean that as of December 2014 all food service providers will be required to supply customers with sufficient allergen information to allow them to make an informed decision when ordering food. We have been working in partnership with British Hospitality Association (BHA) and food service providers to ensure we can make this transition as transparent as possible. We have created a product designed to assist you in complying with the legislation and it allows you to demonstrate to authorities how you are going above and beyond to protect your customers. For more information on Test in a Box please call our laboratory on 01422 884287 or visit www.testinabox.co.uk.
For the legislation relating to gluten specifically click here.
For the Codex standard referred to in the above legislation click here.
Composition and Oats
Analysis for gluten presence focuses on glutenins, a protein composite found in cereals such as wheat, barley and rye. It’s purpose in food is to give elasticity, so helping bread for example to rise and maintain shape. Without gluten or a suitable substitute dough-based foods lack stability and can crumble very easily. The specific protein in wheat is gliadin, in rye is secalin and in barley is hordein.
The protein in oats is avenin which many people with Coeliac’s disease can tolerate. The legislation includes oats within the ‘gluten’ category however any oat product containing less than 20ppm gluten can be classed as gluten-free. Contamination by a gluten cereal such as wheat or barley is likely to be the most likely cause of an oat product giving a high gluten presence. Oats are not normally detected in gluten analysis due to these special dispensations in the legislation, however specific oat presence can be determined using a DNA based method such as PCR. In Australia and New Zealand, however, oats are not permitted in gluten-free products.