Sandwich Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for Detection of Cashew Nut in Foods

Ferdelie E. Gaskin, Steve L. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Abstract: The presence of undeclared cashew can pose a health risk to cashew-allergic consumers. The food industry has the responsibility to declare the presence of cashews on packaged foods even when trace residues are or might be present. The objective of this study was to develop a rapid, sensitive, and specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the detection of cashew residues. Raw and roasted cashews were defatted and used separately to immunize sheep, goats, and rabbits. The cashew ELISA was developed using sheep and rabbit polyclonal anti-roasted cashew sera as capture and detector reagents, respectively, with visualization through an alkaline phosphatase-mediated substrate reaction. The cashew ELISA was shown to have a limit of quantification of 1 ppm (1 μg cashew/g). The ELISA was highly specific except that substantial cross-reactivity was noted with pistachio and a lesser degree of cross-reactivity was noted with hazelnut. The performance of the ELISA was assessed by manufacturing cookies, ice cream, and milk chocolate with added known amounts (0 to 1000 ppm) of cashew. The mean percent recoveries for ice cream, cookies, and milk chocolate were 118%± 2.9%, 84.3%± 4.0%, and 104%± 3.0%, respectively. In a limited retail survey, 4/5 retail samples with cashew declared on ingredient labels tested positive for cashew compared to 5/36 samples of foods with precautionary labels indicating the possible presence of one or more tree nuts and 0/18 samples without cashew declared on the label in any manner. The cashew ELISA can be used to detect undeclared cashew residue in foods and as a potential tool for the food industry to assess the effectiveness of allergen control strategies and to guarantee compliance with food labeling regulatory requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)T218-T226
JournalJournal of food science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Allergen control
  • Allergy
  • Cashew
  • Detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science

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