Food allergies affect over 17M people in Europe and increasing at a 2 digit prevalence rate. With no cure, the only successful method to prevent allergic reactions is to strictly avoid all foods containing the allergen. Hence, to identify these, the consumers rely on an accurate product labelling.The labelling of allergen contents for the industry is however not trivial, it does not only depend on the composition of the product, but also on the possible cross-contamination with allergens from other products.
The current lack of standardized food allergen control plans and cost-effective allergen testing tools, drives food manufacturers to adopt over cautious labelling strategies. As a result, 90% of products with ¨may contain¨ allergen labels do not contain any. This reduces the choice of safe food for the allergic population (39.1M people), leading to a risk taking behaviour.
Detecting and quantifying hidden allergens in food products is thus essential to protect the food-allergic population, but this can only be accessible to the whole food industry if standardised control plans and affordable testing equipment is available to support a well-managed production process [xii]. It is therefore our objective to, on the one hand elaborate best practice guidelines as a reference procedure enabling the food producing companies (and their suppliers) to identify where and how many tests will be required to ensure proper labelling; and on the other hand the industrialization of our innovative rapid and low-cost SaPher biosensing technology.
SaPher project will disrupt the food allergen assessment market thanks to the development of an allergen assessment procedure supported by the industrialization and commercial deployment of our full automatic SaPher nano-photonics biosensing allergen test platform. SaPher will simultaneously assess up to 6 different allergens in food matrices, reducing turnaround times and cost by over 70% in comparison with current golden standards.
To reach market, we will elaborate a standardized risk assessment method (DTU), develop the antibodies of interest not comercially available in the market for the target industries (INGE), industrialize and optimise our technology for mass production (LUME and UPV) and demonstrate both technology and procedure with the meat, dairy and bakery industries (NESTLE) as well as independent laboratories under operational conditions.
As a result, we expect SaPher to be adopted by large and medium food producing companies and external laboratories, throughout Europe.
● Elaboration of Best Practice Guidelines as a reference document on procedures for assessing food allergen contamination, applicable to the food producing industry
● Industrialization of SaPher´s biosensing platform and cartridges to enable the manufacturing upscaling
● Validation and Demonstration of SaPher´s method and procedures at different target food producing industries
● External Certification of SaPher´s equipment and through an extensive interlaboratory comparison with other direct validated and recognized methods already in place, becoming the first certified method for allergen assessment in the food industry.