The establishment of a reference method for the determination of the allergen protein content in a processed food material has been explored. An analytical approach was developed to enable the comparability of food allergen measurement results expressed in a decision-relevant manner. A proof of concept is here presented, resulting in quantity values for the common measurand, namely ‘mass of total allergen protein per mass of food’. The quantities are determined with SI traceability to enable the comparability of reported results. A method for the quantification of total milk protein content in an incurred baked food at a concentration level clinically relevant is presented. The strategy on how to obtain the final analytical result is outlined. Challenges associated with this method are discussed, in particular the optimal extraction of the marker proteins, the complete digestion and release of the peptides in an equimolar fashion, the use of conversion factors to translate the amount of measured proteins into total milk protein and the estimation of the uncertainty contributions as well as of the combined uncertainty of the final result. The implementation of such a reference method for the determination of the total allergen content in a processed food is an important step, which will provide comparable measurement data of relevance to risk assessors. Graphical abstract.

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