How good is the UK Government’s food allergy research program?

Independent reviewers have assessed the research activities of the UK Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Food Allergy and Intolerance Research (FAIR) program. The draft report has prompted several interim recommendations that will help determine the way government-commissioned research into food hypersensitivity is undertaken in the future. A final report will be presented to the FSA Board in mid-2021.

The FSA has funded a great deal of the UK’s research into food hypersensitivity in the past however there has been a decrease in investment in the FAIR program since 2010. The program has particularly focused on adult food allergy and on primary prevention strategies to reduce food hypersensitivity prevalence. Resource constraints may have limited the ability of the FSA to identify and launch new research activities that result in direct impact through better protection of consumers with food hypersensitivity.

Within the draft report is a recommendation for the FSA to undertake more regular external reviews of the research program to ensure ongoing evolution and external monitoring of the food hypersensitivity research environment. Other benefits of this activity would include being able to disseminate research program outputs and impact more widely; development of more strategic relationships with other funders and stakeholders to maximise potential for early identification of collaborative working/funding; and sourcing of high-quality proposals, particularly in new or complex areas.

The Board paper and interim recommendations were presented to the FSA Board at the September meeting, and the full details of the meeting and associated papers are available on the FSA website.