Milk is a common ingredient in fried foods. Allergen cross-contact can occur through the reuse of frying oil. To enable assessment of the allergy risk of reused oil, methods for quantification of milk protein in oil are needed. This study evaluated four commercial ELISA test kits in comparison with the 660 nm total protein assay for the detection of milk protein in oil after frying. Corn oil spiked with nonfat or whole milk powder were fried at 150 °C or 180 °C for 3 min and were analyzed by ELISA kits either directly or after preextraction with phosphate-buffered saline containing 0.05% Tween (PBST). All four ELISA kits performed well in quantifying milk protein in unheated oil, achieving normalized recoveries of 72.1–115.9% compared with that determined in reference solutions (PBST spiked with nonfat or whole milk powder, 100%). Frying lowered the amount of protein detected, but the extent of reduction differed between test kits. In nonfat milk powder-spiked oil fried at 150 °C, normalized recoveries determined by Veratox Total Milk and BioKits BLG Assay (49.9% and 43.6%, respectively) were higher than that determined by the 660 nm assay (25.4%). Normalized recoveries determined by ELISA Systems Casein and Beta-Lactoglobulin (BLG) kits were substantially lower (9.7% and 2.4%, respectively). In samples fried under typical frying temperature (180 °C), very little protein (0.1–7.4%) was detected. Inclusion of PBST preextraction improved the detection of the two test kits targeting BLG but lowered the level of protein detected by Veratox and ELISA Systems Casein in fried samples. Overall, the ELISA kits evaluated could effectively quantify milk protein in unheated oil without the need to remove the oil phase prior to analysis. Heat treatment was the key factor negatively affecting protein quantitation. Such impact needs to be considered when ELISA test results are used for assessing the allergy risk of reused frying oil.

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