1. Two specific aptamers will be isolated against two major allergenic proteins in cow's milk, namely b-lactoglobulin and as1-casein. </P>
2. Antibody-based SERS assays for the detection of b-lactoglobulin and as1-casein will be developed and validated in processed meat products such as sausage as well as the surface swab of the typical processing equipment surface materials. </P>
3. Aptamer-based SERS assays for the detection of b-lactoglobulin and as1-casein will be developed and validated in processed meat products such as sausage as well as the surface swab of the typical processing equipment.
Contamination of potentially allergenic foods in processing lines constitutes a potential health risk to people suffering from food allergies. This is one of the major reasons many co-packers and institutional processors are hesitant in using dairy ingredients in their production lines, thus limiting the use of dairy in many food formulations. Processors and co-packers who use dairy ingredients have no effective tool to ensure proper cleaning of equipment, which leads to long down time on their production lines. Rapid and easy-to-use methods are required to ensure processing lines are allergen free, and to ensure continued use of dairy ingredients in different food and beverage applications. The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method is the current major test for quantitatively measuring allergen residues in food and on equipment. The main limitations of ELISA are (1) the analyst must be trained to obtain reliable results, and (2) depending on specific test, it usually takes several hours to finish the test. </P> Therefore, with the increase of the complexity of food ingredients and the diversity of food ingredient sources, the goal is this study is to develop rapid antibody- and aptamer (single stranded DNA)- based surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) assays for in-plant detection of dairy proteins in processed meat products such as sausage and on equipment surface. Researchers will develop a rapid, easy-to-use, robust method to detect trace amounts of allergens using existing portable surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy instrument.