06 March 2018
Food Allergy
- Food Safety

On the 22nd of February, EFA Director of Policy and Strategy Roberta Savli and EFA Vice-President Erna Botjes participated in a workshop organised by Imparas, a COST action of the European Union to improve the current allergenicity risk assessment strategy. The meeting paid special attention to novel foods, especially new protein-based ingredients that might negatively impact allergic consumers. The workshop brought together researchers and other stakeholders interested in knowing more about strategies to predict the allergenicity of novel or modified proteins. The hot topic was the question of the “acceptable risk (of symptoms)” for the allergic patient consuming these new proteins.

The European Union has adopted thresholds for 14 allergens, leading to a visible labelling in ingredients list. The thresholds is applied when one of the 14 allergens is in the ingredients list recipe. Risks of contamination of the recipe are signalled to allergic consumers with a “may contain” mention.

The discussion during the Imparas workshop went further in the assessment of risks for allergic consumers as the ultimate goal is that scientists develop risk thresholds for allergic reactions, and not just for the presence of an allergen in foods. In this sense, Roberta and Erna discussed how to formulate the problems so that risk assessors provide appropriate information and methodologies to risk managers.

While the process might take several years, EFA represents the voice of patients with food allergy in the discussions to make sure that their concerns are listened to by the researchers. For us, not only the methodology to establish risks for patients, but also how these risks are communicated to consumers is important, as food allergy patients will base their food choices according to the thresholds and the labelling.  

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The EFA Team