By Allergen Bureau

FAO/WHO Expert Panel Reference Doses – What’s Next? 

The FAMS conference recently gave attendees the opportunity to listen to the rationale behind the FAO/WHO Expert panels recommendation for precautionary allergen labelling to be underpinned by a quantitative risk assessment, coupled with the use of Reference Doses set on ED05 based values.  For those unaware the third report has been recently published and can be found here. 

Once again FAMS enabled the hard topics to be discussed openly. Clinicians and patient advocacy groups were able to share their acceptance of the move to ED05, assuming a reduction in PAL would allow for more consumer choice of suitably risk assessed products. Industry shared their allergen management and risk assessment experiences and the work needed to ensure consumer safety. The question remains, what is the actual impact expected in labelling outcomes with a transition to ED05 in a program such as VITAL? The Allergen Bureau VITAL Program is underpinned by the concept that organisations have implemented an effective allergen management program and have used risk mitigation strategies for allergens that focus on the elimination or reduction of the allergen, followed by controlling the risk to the lowest practicable level. One could suggest therefore from a production point of view, nothing should change in an organisation’s allergen management practice, despite a change to the Reference Dose. With respect to labelling, a logical outcome may be that less products will carry a precautionary allergen statement (PAL).  However, a short coming in this thinking is that it fails to consider that labelling outcomes may be driven by non-homogeneous cross contact of varying levels or by particulate risks where the form of the allergen contains enough protein to elicit a reaction. e.g., pieces of peanut.  

To gain insight into the possible impact on the labelling outcomes, the Allergen Bureau is commissioning a food industry survey. Our aim is to assess the likely impact of a shift to ED05 across various food categories to determine in how many instances the labelling outcome is positively impacted for the consumer (PAL is removed). For those instances where the PAL is not impacted, we would like to understand why?  

The Allergen Bureau seeks your input and participation in this very important survey. Businesses willing to participate will be asked to provide de-identified labelling outcomes, identifying the category of product only, and complete a short survey.   If you are a VITAL online user or a business that utilizes quantitative risk assessment calculations and would like to participate, please contact us at for more information.

Update the survey is now open – find out more.