Europe’s allergen labelling rules not providing enough safety

Researchers in the Netherlands have called for greater guidance on precautionary allergen labelling following a study that showed people with food allergy regularly have allergic reactions because of the absence of clear precautionary labelling on products.

In the study by the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht and The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), 157 people with a food allergy were followed for one year. Nearly half of the participants experienced one or more unexpected allergic reactions due to unclear or incomplete allergen labelling.

Study participants who experienced an allergic reaction were asked to send in a sample of the culprit product for laboratory analysis by TNO and the UMC Utrecht. Results indicated that half of the products without precautionary allergen labelling contained at least one allergen, although some products were found to contain up to four different undeclared allergens. Some products with precautionary allergen labelling contained allergens that were not mentioned in the labelling statements.

The study is the first of its kind and the authors hope that, by raising awareness of the scale of the health implications for food allergic consumers, greater priority will be given to improving guidance for food manufacturers on the use of precautionary allergen labelling throughout Europe.

See the TNO media release for more information.

 Reference: Blom et al. 2018 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.04.041

This paper’s co-author, Professor Geert Houben, is a member of the Allergen Bureau VITAL® Scientific Expert Panel (VSEP). See more about the VSEP here.