The following approaches were used:
A desktop exercise was carried out using questionnaires posted and e-mailed widely to members and contacts of Leatherhead Food International. A copy was also posted on the LFI website inviting responses. The target group comprised personnel with technical, quality assurance and safety roles within companies. A literature search was undertaken to obtain information on latex, its composition, the manufacture of latex products and references (if any) to food-mediated latex allergy, including any clinical studies.<br>
Commercial Fitkit ELISAs were set-up and evaluated for the 4 major latex allergens according to the manufacturer's instructions and their performance assessed. (e.g. dose-response, sensitivity, selectivity and specificity). In order to improve the quantification at lower levels (5-10ng/ml) a new approach based on two additional 'amplification' steps was successfully developed and evaluated.<br>
The improved assay was applied to a range of food contact materials and associated foods.
Latex is the milky sap derived from a rubber tree. It is used to manufacture many goods, some of which are used in the food chain (e.g. latex gloves, and packaging used for confectionery and ice cream products). There are several reports in the scientific literature that indicate potential for food-mediated latex allergy associated with the use of latex gloves for handling food.
There has been a shortage of information on the extent to which latex protein containing materials are used in the food chain. The overall aims of the project were to investigate the extent of usage of latex-containing materials in contact with food and, to develop a method of analysis for the determination of these allergens in both materials and foods.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.