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PRESS RELEASE: Industry Guidance on Food Allergens has to be improved!

The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) welcomes the launch of FoodDrinkEurope Guidance on Food Allergen Management, but some improvements are essential. Setting out general principles to manage specific pre-packed food causing allergy, the Guidance represents a remarkable step forward, especially for countries that do not have such guidelines in place. Nevertheless, from EFA’s perspective there is still space for improvements regarding the use of latex, precautionary labelling and listing possible allergens.

Comprehensive Guidance should also clearly specify when the precautionary label can be used.  The so-called “may contain” label significantly and sometimes completely reduces choices available to allergic consumers and results in frustration and risk-taking behaviour. EFA therefore recommends following the best practice example from Sweden, where the precautionary label is allowed only when cross-contamination is uncontrollable, sporadic and documented through cleaning controls, test results, or substantial consumers’ evidence.

EFA is also concerned about the list of possible allergens featured in the Guidance. Although it refers to substances listed in the EU legislation as allergens, from EFA’s point of view, the Guidance should include a truly comprehensive list of allergens in order to guarantee at the best the safety of people suffering from allergies. “Many other substances can cause allergic reactions, it is therefore necessary to have the full list of ingredients always listed both in pre-packed and non pre-packed food,” Marianne Jarl from Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association points out.

Finally, latex is a known allergen which may trigger allergic reactions involving skin, both cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and in some cases it can be fatal. Food contaminated by latex containers or gloves may trigger same reactions. “Gloves are not necessary if all other hygiene practices are in place. If for a special reason latex gloves have to be used then consumers should be informed,” Giorgio Salerni from Italian patient organisation FEDERASMA explains.

EFA calls for including these three principles in the Guidance to better ensure the safety of allergic patients in Europe and enhance their right to informed choice.

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