AOAC Announces New Standard for Determining Milk as Allergen in Food Products

Rockville, MD, April 24, 2018: AOAC announces a new standard for detecting food allergens today in Rockville, Maryland. The newly approved AOAC standard for quantitation of milk by ELISA-based methods aims to find methods for the rapid detection of food allergens to help ensure accurate food labeling.

Proper food labeling is critical for many consumers to determine the presence of an allergen in food to which they have allergic reaction. Because there is no cure for food allergies, strict avoidance of food allergens is an important measure to prevent serious health consequences.

“The milk allergen standard is the second of a series of AOAC food allergen standards for alternative, or rapid test kit type methods, and ultimately AOAC Official Methods of Analysis methods,” said Jupiter Yeung of Nestlé and co-chair of the AOAC working group on food allergens. Eggs (chicken egg; the project’s first food allergen standard), milk, peanuts, and tree nuts allergens were identified as high-priority allergens by an AOAC advisory panel.

AOAC’s standards development activities focus on those allergens indicated by food companies as important to food labeling and are relevant and valuable to regulators and industry at an international level. “Methods are now needed for quantitation of milk in foods, such as cookies and other baked goods, dark chocolate, drink mixes, orange juice, infant formula, and wine,” said Yeung.

All food allergen standards are being developed in accordance with an AOAC guidance document for developing and validating the performance characteristics of ELISA methods for determining food allergens (Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC INTERNATIONAL, Appendix M). ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, is a test that uses allergen specific antibodies and color change to identify a substance, and is a popular format of "wet-lab" type analytic biochemical assay that uses a solid-phase enzyme immunoassay (EIA) to detect the presence of a substance, usually an antigen, in a liquid sample or wet sample. It’s routinely used as a quality-control check in the food industry.

AOAC INTERNATIONAL standards are developed and approved by voluntary stakeholder consensus and prescribe the minimum analytical performance requirements for classes of analytical methods. AOAC methods are rigorously reviewed by subject matter experts against those standards and deemed scientifically sound and suitable for intended use.

“AOAC methods undergo rigorous scientific scrutiny and demonstrate the highest level of confidence in analytical results,” said DeAnn L. Benesh, president of AOAC INTERNATIONAL. “Our mission is to provide high-quality products and solutions for the analytical science community that are fit-for-purpose and recognized worldwide.”

AOAC INTERNATIONAL is a globally recognized, 501(c)(3), independent, third party, not-for-profit association and voluntary consensus standards developing organization founded in 1884. When analytical needs arise within a community or industry, AOAC INTERNATIONAL is the forum for finding appropriate science-based solutions through the development of microbiological and chemical standards. AOAC standards are used globally to promote trade and to facilitate public health and safety.

For more information, call (301) 924-7077 (worldwide) or (800) 379-2622 (toll free North America), visit, or contact Krystyna McIver at AOAC is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, USA.