New work underpins best use of precautionary allergen labelling

Two papers from The Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management (iFAAM) project have presented more information about how consumers with food allergies make decisions based on precautionary labelling, and how such labelling systems can be improved.

An online survey was developed for adults and parents of children with food allergy and distributed across Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and UK via patient support groups.

Over 1,500 complete responses were received. ‘This product is not suitable for’ was selected as first choice for PAL by 46 per cent overall and ‘May contain’ was selected as the first choice by 44 per cent.

Seventy-three percent or respondents said it would improve their trust in a product if a quantitative risk assessment (QRA) process had been used to make a decision about whether to include the ‘may contain’ statement. Overall, 66 per cent reported that a ‘statement + symbol’ on the label indicating a QRA, would help them to understand the risk assessment process that had been used by the food manufacturer.

Without a standardized approach to applying precautionary allergen labelling, this form of labelling is generally regarded as counterproductive for consumers with food allergies. Within the iFAAM project, a clinically validated tiered risk assessment approach for food allergens was developed. Two workshops were held, in December 2016 and April 2018, to discuss the use of this approach to support more informative and transparent labelling.

Reference 1: DunnGalvin et al. 2019. Understanding how consumers with food allergies make decisions based on precautionary labelling. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy. Doi: 10.1111/cea.13479.

Reference 2: DunnGalvin et al. 2019. Evidence‐based approaches to the application of precautionary allergen labelling: Report from two iFAAM workshops. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy. Doi: 10.1111/cea.13464.