Food allergy: from thresholds to action levels

Food allergy: from thresholds to action levels

  • 20 July 2015
  • News

The Anaphylaxis Campaign participated in a groundbreaking meeting organised by the European Branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI-Europe) held on 13th and 14th September 2012.

The workshop, entitled “Food Allergy: From Thresholds to Action Levels”, drew together key international stakeholders including representatives from the food industry, health practitioners, food analysts, regulators and patient organisations.

The purpose of the workshop was for scientists to share data on the major allergen threshold levels that have been collected over recent years from low-dose food challenges.  The aim is to define and set action levels for use by the food industry and to discuss the data and knowledge gaps that need to be addressed.

Any proposals put forward must gain the approval of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

It is intended that action levels will have a beneficial effect in the following ways;

  • They will protect the vast majority of allergic consumers
  • They will lead to a fall in the number of “may contain” labels and “revalue” those that remain, as food companies achieve the agreed levels
  • “May contain” labelling will have a clear meaning which will be understood both by allergic consumers and people in the food industry

The scientists acknowledge that it will be impossible to protect 100 per cent of allergic consumers 100 per cent of the time because some people who are extremely sensitive may react even to traces if they are particularly vulnerable at a certain time (e.g. if their asthma is not well controlled). However, the scientists are working with the basic premise that any traces that do occur – so long as they are within the accepted limits – will be highly unlikely to cause life-threatening reactions, even to those in the highly sensitive group. Whilst perfection may not be possible, it is hoped that both industry and allergic consumers will see a vast improvement on the position they are in at present.