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This month EFA reports on its food allergen labelling event at the European Parliament and has news about a European project soon to issue guidelines on indoor air quality in schools across Europe.

EFA holds “Contains/May Contain” Food Allergen Labelling Event

Policy-makers and other stakeholders joined EFA at the European Parliament on Wednesday 19th of September to discuss food allergen labelling in EU policy and everyday practice. Hosted by German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Renate Sommer (European People’s Party, EPP) and organised in collaboration with the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), the event presented patient expectations for food allergen labelling policy and focused on two main topics: mandatory allergen information on non pre-packed foods, one of the novelties of the new EU regulation, and “precautionary labelling.” Based on information provided by EFA members, the best practices of several EU Member States were presented and EFA’s long-held opposition to the “may contain” label was outlined: EFA believes that this wording limits choices for people with food allergy and may lead to unsafe selections of food. The event highlighted the need to take the views of food allergy patients into consideration in the implementation of the new EU regulation, in order to ensure people with food allergies, sensitivities and intolerance are able to make safe food choices and live uncompromised lifestyles. The event was recently featured in a European Parliament magazine online article. All presentations will be made available for download on our Presentations webpage. Please also be sure to take a moment to look at the images from our event.

Urgent!: Indoor air quality in schools in Europe

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important issue for all, but especially for people with respiratory diseases. At the final meeting of the SINPHONIE project (Schools Indoor Pollution and Health: Observatory Network for Europe) in Szentendre, Hungary, the Director of Public Health at the European Commission, John F. Ryan, said  that the project is addressing the health of a particularly vulnerable section of society, our children. The project should provide useful information and guidelines for a wide range of EU policies: environment, research, public health and climate change. He explained SINPHONIE should be seen in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, which also encompasses social cohesion and employment. Mr. Ryan said public health actions can contribute to economic growth by decreasing premature deaths, improving sustainability, health and energy efficiency and by lowering health care costs. He urged participants to take into consideration the forthcoming EU Reflection paper on chronic diseases and the WHO Declaration on Control of chronic diseases.

The project looked at 22 European countries, and measured IAQ in 116 schools with a total of 300 classrooms and 6904 pupils. It looked at the pupils’ health and that of their teachers alongside with scientific literature reviews.

EFA’s Susanna Palkonen is a member of the SINPHONIE Advisory Committee and during the meeting she stressed the need to include our network of EFA members into the dissemination plan for the final project results, which are expected in two months. From the analysis so far, it is clear that asthma in children is common and often poorly managed at school, respiratory problems are common and schools’ indoor air is in urgent need of improvement. If there are about 60 million school children in Europe (Eurostat), and about 7% have asthma (source: SINPHONIE), this amounts to one million children, Prof Paolo Carrer from the SINPHONIE project pointed out.

The SINPHONIE project, requested by the European Parliament and funded by the EU, is proving for the first time on a large scale the correlation between school exposure and adverse health effects, and has harmonized and standardized methods in use for this evaluation across Europe. One best practice example has already come from France, where monitoring of IAQ is mandatory in public places and where the results are published. EFA will report on the final results of the project, including the guidelines on indoor air quality in schools as soon as they are issued. More SINPHONIE resources are available here: brochures for children, school staff and parentsnewsletter & research materials

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