Allergic to cow’s milk? According to the European Commission, cookies, chocolate and cakes could still be on the menu for you during the Christmas period.

Knowing its the most treat-filled time of the year for many, the commission is promoting research by its Joint Research Centre (JRC), the commission’s science and knowledge service, that claims there is a method that can help to improve the measurements of allergens in food, to contribute to clearer consumer information.

For someone suffering from milk allergies, Christmas is definitely one of the hardest times to be dairy-free.

Allergy to cow’s milk is one of the most common food allergies in early childhood and can persist through adult life, forcing the allergic individuals to completely eliminate milk from their diet.

Unclear labelling about the possible presence of milk in food items further reduces the choice for consumers with milk allergies. Therefore, measuring the allergenic content in food people consume is of highest importance, the commission notes.

The JRC has developed a new reference method for measuring milk proteins in cookies. Based on mass spectrometry, this reference method allows quantifying the total of milk protein content in a cookie.

A method extendable to other food allergen measurements

With this method, the JRC reached a “first important step, which aims to establish reference methods for food allergen quantification”.

The EU requires the correct labelling of 14 allergenic ingredients in food items. However, currently, the available analytical methods have, even for milk, different measurement targets.

As a result, they do not provide comparable data on the presence of potentially allergenic proteins in food, and the data can vary considerably between different laboratories.

“A reference method enables comparable and decision-relevant data,” according to the commission.

“In the future, the JRC’s new reference method principle could be extended to accommodate also other food allergen measurement methods.

“It will contribute to ensure that food placed on the EU market is safe for those suffering from specific allergies.”