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20 June 2019
- Healthcare

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) launched in April a public consultation on the appropriate age for the introduction of complementary feeding into an infants’ diet. EFA welcomed the initiative and responded to the call conveying several concerns our food allergy community has when feeding a baby.

The draft scientific opinion prepared by EFSA looked at the developmental and health aspects of the introduction of complementary foods (CFs) in infants below six months of age. EFA welcomes the initiative as an effort to centralize data that are largely spread and fragmented.

From our perspective, the paper was interesting as it included considerations on potential effects (positive or adverse) around the intake of allergenic food such as eggs, cereals, fish and peanuts, and elaborated on the possibility to develop allergies later on.

We are glad to see the inclusion of health elements in a discussion typically dominated by nutritional considerations, and that the final opinion will be used to inform legislation that ensures the highest level of protection for infants’ health.

Our main comments to the early introduction of complementary feeding:

At EFA, we also took the opportunity to highlight several points that need further attention from a patient’s perspective:

  • There is an urgent need for a clear guidance on the appropriate age for the introduction of complementary feeding in the diets of babies. This is a recurrent problem arising from the diversity among guidelines coming from e.g. the World Health Organisation, and the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
  • EFA recommends developing more strongly the risk-benefits between infection prevention through breastfeeding and natural (allergen) desensitisation through food
  • The EFSA draft opinion uses in its analysis the age of 3-4 months as reference point for comparative purposes. EFA wonders if this has scientific validity, given that currently there is no consensus to introduce CF before the age of 4 months
  • EFA also voiced the lack of clear guidance on the role of allergen intake by expecting and breastfeeding mothers. EFA would gladly welcome a scientific-based guidance on the relationship between pregnant and breastfeeding mothers’ diets, and the prevention or risk developing atopic disease while ensuring good nutrition for the child

The full EFA response to the EFSA consultation on complementary feeding in infants is available here.

We thank all our Members from EFA Food Allergy Working Group for their input and to put this response together.

We also thank our long-standing partners from the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Allergology (EAACI) with whom we coordinated smoothly before submitting this response.