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The detection of unexpected contaminations of food products by goat's milk

The identification of food products contaminated by few drops of goat's milk was the challenge taken up by scientists from the INRA Food Allergy Laboratory. By using new monoclonal antibodies specific to goat's milk allergens, a rapid and inexpensive immunoenzymatic detection test has been developed. The scientists are now seeking to assess this test in different food matrices.

control of milk. © INRA, SLAGMULDER Christian
Updated on 03/02/2015
Published on 03/02/2015

An emerging allergy to goat's milk but not to cow’s milk

Cases of allergy to goat's milk, but with no allergy to cow's milk, have been reported regularly in recent years. This allergy affects mainly children with multiple allergies. Symptoms are frequently severe (anaphylactic shock) and can be triggered by minimal amount of goat’s milk proteins. Accidents can be caused by the unexpected contamination of cow's milk by goat’s milk (in mixed production units), or by the use of goat's milk proteins as a food ingredient or flavour enhancer in complex food products such as pizza, lasagna or reconstituted meats.

Goat's milk appears to be an emerging allergen that companies in the food industry must take into account.


Allergic reactions are elicited by caprine caseins

The goat’s milk proteins inducing the allergic reactions in patients who tolerate cow's milk are mainly caseins. Although caseins in goat's milk and cow's milk are more than 85% similar, scientists from the Food Allergy Laboratory have managed to produce monoclonal antibodies that specifically recognise caprine alpha S1, beta and kappa caseins. In the case of beta-casein, the monoclonal antibodies recognise two domains that both differ from the homologous bovine sequence by a single amino acid.

By using the specificity of these monoclonal antibodies, the scientists have developed an immunoenzymatic detection system that is capable of detecting a contamination of cow's milk by goat's milk at the ppm level, or 1µL of goat's milk diluted in 1L of cow's milk.

A rapid and adaptable detection test

Inexpensive and reliable, this test has been developed for cow's milk contaminated by goat's milk. The test can be performed within four hours with a simple dilution of milk. Further work will include the assessment of this system in different and more complex food matrices, or its adaptation to a lateral-flow test strip format. Given the wide diversity of formulations and technological pathways followed (thermal treatments, physicochemical treatments, etc.), the authors of this research project will orient their future developments as a function of the needs expressed by actors in the food industry. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact them.

Scientific contact(s):

Associated Division(s):
Nutrition, Chemical Food Safety and Consumer Behaviour