Updated threshold data for 14 priority food allergens

Risk assessment approaches based on food allergen thresholds were introduced some time ago to underpin action levels for precautionary allergen labelling. New threshold dose data has now been published for the most significant food allergens.

In 2007, the Allergen Bureau released the first iteration of the VITAL® Program – a standardised allergen risk assessment process for food industry. The aim of VITAL was to help food manufacturers use a consistent approach to identifying when precautionary allergen labelling (PAL), when PAL was effectively the only means to keep consumers safe from potentially harmful levels of unintended allergens.

Determining allergen thresholds initially relies on an understanding of the smallest amount of an allergen that will elicit a reaction in an allergic individual. This minimum eliciting dose (ED) depends on the sensitivity of each individual and ED data must be collected in a consistent manner for a great number of allergic individuals to then provide an acceptable level of safety for the majority of the allergic population.

Global food allergen experts, including those at FARRP and the TNO, first collaborated as the VITAL Scientific Expert Panel (VSEP) in 2011 to establish the first Allergen Threshold Database which contained around 1,750 individual data points. In 2014, the first population eliciting dose (EDp) results were published. The systematic collection of oral food challenge data continued from 2011 until late 2018, and the current dataset now contains over 3,400 data points.

On-going collaboration of the VSEP has produced updated EDp values using stacked model averaging for the previously reported allergenic foods. Several new food allergens have also been added where data have recently become available, with threshold doses now available for cashew, celery, egg, fish, hazelnut, lupin, milk, mustard, peanut, sesame, shrimp (for crustacean shellfish), soy, walnut, and wheat.

This work is summarised in the Allergen Bureau, Summary of the 2019 VITAL Scientific Expert Panel Recommendations and the recommended ED01 Reference Doses have been adopted into the VITAL Program Version 3.0.

Reference: Remington et al. Food and Chemical Toxicology 2020. Vol. 139. DOI: 10.1016/j.fct.2020.111259