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Determination of Allergenic Egg Proteins in Food by Protein-, Mass Spectrometry-, and DNA-Based Methods

Lee J.Yun, Kim C.Jong

Journal of AOAC International (2010), 93, 2, 462--477 DOI:


Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in both adults and children, and foods including eggs and their byproducts should be declared under food allergen labeling policies in industrial countries. Therefore, to develop and validate a sensitive and specific method to detect hidden egg allergens in foods, we compared immunochemical, DNA-based, and proteomic methods for detecting egg allergens in foods using egg allergen standards such as egg whole protein, egg white protein, egg yolk protein, ovomucoid, ovalbumin, ovotransferrin, lysozyme, and -livetin. Protein-based immunochemical methods, including ELISA as an initial screening quantitative analysis and immunoblotting as a final confirmatory qualitative analysis, were very sensitive and specific in detecting potentially allergenic egg residues in processed foods in trace amounts. In contrast, the proteomics-based, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight MS and LC-tandem quadrupole time-of-flight MS methods were not able to detect some egg allergens, such as ovomucoid, because of its nondenaturing property under urea and trypsin. The DNA-based PCR method could not distinguish between egg and chicken meat because it is tissue-nonspecific. In further studies for the feasibility of these immunochemical methods on 100 real raw dietary samples, four food samples without listed egg ingredients produced a positive response by ELISA, but exhibited negative results by immunoblotting.