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26 March 2020
Asthma , COPD, Allergy, Food Allergy
PREVENT, - Food Safety, - Air Quality

The transition towards a sustainable food system is one of the cornerstones of the EU Green Deal. This includes climate-friendly production, safe processing as well as healthy consumption of food.

In the recently presented Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission attempts to do exactly what its name reveals: addressing the food chain as a whole, from primary production, transportation of food products and related emissions, to accurate information for consumers and reduction of food waste.

EFA highlights health dimensions of food

The European Commission presents its policy priorities and synergies in a Roadmap, launching also a public consultation on the Farm to Fork Strategy.

Importantly, the Farm to Fork Strategy acknowledges the food system’s strong impact on areas such as air pollution, health and the circular economy.

EFA welcomes this Commissions’ initiative and gladly participated in the public consultation. Representing patients with allergy, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), our feedback focused on two health-oriented dimensions of food:

  • accurate food information is a fundamental right of consumers, especially for those living with allergies and intolerances, to make informed choices, stay safe and healthy;
  • the process of food production is a key environmental risk factor for patients with respiratory diseases as the related air pollution contributes to climate and emissions, including of pollen.

Better food information: key to safe consumption for food allergic people

EFA stresses the necessity to have an EU-wide harmonised approach on Precautionary Allergen Labelling. Being one of the key recommendations in our recent FoodDETECTives report, the relevancy for such an approach is emphasized by the high priority assigned to better food information in the Farm to Fork Roadmap.

Moreover, EFA calls for further resources for scientific and clinical research towards the establishment of reference doses for each of the 14 food allergens listed in the EU Food Information to Consumers Regulation. We further highlight the need for greater safety in novel foods by rapidly integrating new scientific evidence on the allergenicity of novel foods from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Agricultural emissions are a health risk factor

Ammonia and methane emissions from the agricultural sector have a significant impact on air quality. While air pollution affects everyone, people with respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD are particularly affected.

Despite, also pollen is tightly associated with human industrial activities, including agriculture, as climate change leads to extended seasonal duration and increased pollen load for aero allergenic pollen. EFA is therefore reiterating its call for a real-time monitoring of pollen, ensuring the timely access to information to citizens with pollen allergies.

More information and the full EFA response to the Farm to Fork Strategy can be found here.