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Quantitative Allergen Labelling

René Crevel

Food allergy is now fully accepted as an important food safety issue and specific legislation exists in jurisdictions covering close to half the world’s population. This recognition implies a need to manage the risk it poses alongside longer-established food safety risks such as microbiological, physical or other chemical food safety risks. However, management of food allergy risks still suffers from the historical lack of a generally-accepted risk assessment approach, founded on a quantitative basis. The uncertainties over the health risk posed by unintended allergen presence (UAP) felt by many actors in this field is reflected in particular by the extensive and largely unmanaged use of precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) to mitigate it. Intensive work involving multiple stakeholders over many years has helped to characterise this health risk quantitatively and build tools to assess it. A high degree of agreement among those stakeholders now exists within Europe in particular about the possibility and desirability of applying the approaches developed. Furthermore European Union legislation already contains provisions that enable the development and implementation of a framework for managing the risks from UAP to the benefit of all parties. This paper discusses the context and evolution of quantitative allergen labelling and how it can effectively support food safety policy objectives.

René Crevel Consulting Limited, Bedford, UK.


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