Consumer-friendly food allergen detection: moving towards smartphone-based immunoassays

Georgina M.S. Ross*, Monique G.E.G. Bremer, Michel W.F. Nielen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


In this critical review, we provide a comprehensive overview of immunochemical food allergen assays and detectors in the context of their user-friendliness, through their connection to smartphones. Smartphone-based analysis is centered around citizen science, putting analysis into the hands of the consumer. Food allergies represent a significant worldwide health concern and consumers should be able to analyze their foods, whenever and wherever they are, for allergen presence. Owing to the need for a scientific background, traditional laboratory-based detection methods are generally unsuitable for the consumer. Therefore, it is important to develop simple, safe, and rapid assays that can be linked with smartphones as detectors to improve user accessibility. Smartphones make excellent detection systems because of their cameras, embedded flash functions, portability, connectivity, and affordability. Therefore, this review has summarized traditional laboratory-based methods for food allergen detection such as enzyme-linked-immunosorbent assay, flow cytometry, and surface plasmon resonance, and the potential to modernize these methods by interfacing them with a smartphone readout system, based on the aforementioned smartphone characteristics. This is the first review focusing on smartphone-based food-allergen detection methods designed with the intention of being consumer-friendly. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5353–5371
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number22
Early online date26 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Citizen science
  • Consumer
  • Food allergen
  • Immunoassay
  • Multiplex
  • Smartphone


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