Immunological Methodology

Since the late 1970s, application of immunoassays (IAs) has moved from the clinical field into the areas of agricultural residue and food analysis. Development of these immunoassays, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) in particular, began when the attractive features of the assays used in the clinical diagnostic field were identified. These assays are capable of being more rapid, more sensitive, less expensive, and less laborious than many of the classical methods used for detecting compounds of importance in agriculture and the food industry. These compounds may be naturally occurring compounds such as my-cotoxins, natural toxicants, or microbial contaminants. They may also be substances added to animal feeds (eg, antimicrobial agents) or applied to crops (eg, pesticides), which occur as potentially harmful residues in raw materials and finished food products. The ability to identify food constituents is also important to ensure that adulteration has not occurred.

Because of the explosion of research and development of ias in this area and the limited scope and length of this article, it is impossible to list and describe every compound of interest, whether it is a food component or a contaminant. This article will provide a fairly detailed summary of ias used in analysis of food proteins (meat and nonmeat proteins), beginning with the older classical methods (eg, agglutination and precipitin techniques), and then focus on the development of the newer, more innovative immunoassays (eg, ELISAs). The later sections, whether they describe ias designed for detecting naturally occurring substances or those designed for detecting residues resulting from application or administration of drugs and other chemicals, will focus on ELISAs.

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