Over the last six years, allergy deaths have increased by 42% in Australia, and this might explain why the country has among the highest allergy rates in the world. It is partly attributed to the lack of enough nutritional information on food product packaging. It happens although food processors must inform consumers about the contents of their products. To provide accurate nutritional information, food processors must conduct allergen testing. While there are numerous immunological methods of allergen testing, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing has proved to be the most reliable. Here are the top reasons why food processors must employ PCR allergen testing as opposed to other allergen testing procedures
Specificity in allergen testing cannot be overstated because missing a single strand of allergenic DNA sequence can prove disastrous to consumers. It is one area where other allergen testing techniques, such as ELISA, fall short. For instance, allergen testing using ELISA only focuses on the type of protein present in a food product. However, it does not go to the specifics regarding which specific DNA sequence in a protein is allergenic. This is where PCR testing proves superior because rather than test a protein, it allows technicians to identify the exact DNA sequence of an allergenic ingredient. The property makes PCR testing the best allergen testing technique for most processed food samples.
Another advantage that PCR testing has over other methods is that it allows for uniform sample preparation for multiple parameters. It is particularly critical when dealing with limited samples and must test them for different allergenic ingredients. PCR testing ensures that technicians can identify and determine the DNA of different allergens at the same time. Besides, PCR analysis minimises cross-reactivity, which prevents false-positive results. It simplifies and hastens the testing process, saving time and money.
Typically, small-sized samples are recommended in allergen testing because of the intricate analyses. However, small-sized samples are susceptible to contamination, and this might affect test results. In most cases, technicians using techniques like ELISA only detect sample contamination once the testing is complete. When this happens, the test must be repeated, which only wastes time. PCR analysis is fully automated and eliminates the risk of cross-contamination. Furthermore, such automation simplifies documentation and allows a technician to handle other equally important tasks. Full automation is especially beneficial where large samples of food products must be tested for allergens.