Fostering an international evidence-based consensus on risk assessment and developing management tools in food allergy

Background

Food allergies are of high and growing importance to public health, affecting consumers’ quality of life and resulting in increasing calls on health service resources. There is growing evidence that this impact is increasing at a global level as developing countries adopt a ‘Western’ lifestyle. Minimising the risk from allergenic foods is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders involved (e.g. patients, clinicians, food producers, retailers, caterers and regulators).

Objectives

This task force aims to foster an international evidence-based consensus on how to assess the risk from allergenic foods and to develop the tools which will help to manage this risk.

Impact

The Food Allergy Task Force were pioneers in proposing dose distribution modelling as an approach for characterising and subsequently assessing the risk posed by food allergens. They created a framework for new thinking on food allergy risks and contributed to the acceptance of risk assessment-based approaches for food allergens.

The task force made significant contributions to the VITAL® (Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling) scientific panel and to the development of allergen reference doses.

The task force has built a strong network of international world-class experts from leading organisations such as the Food Allergy Research & Resource Program (FARRP) and the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI). The task force has been acknowledged as a reliable and valuable partner by national regulators, leading clinicians, patient organisations and established industry players in the field.

The conclusions of the workshop on ‘Thresholds to Action Levels’ (13-14 September 2012, Reading, UK) were summarised in three articles (R.W.R. Crevel et al., 2014a; R.W.R. Crevel et al., 2014b; S. Hattersley et al., 2014) and disseminated via a webinar on ‘Allergen Risk Assessment and Reference Doses’ (16 April 2015).

A recent publication (K. Verhoeckx et al., 2015) assesses whether food processing is a mitigating or aggravating factor in allergic sensitisation.

What’s New

New Activity Proposal on ‘Tolerable Risk in Food Allergy’ is under scientific review.

New publication on ‘Prioritisation of Allergenic Foods with Respect to Public Health Relevance’ (G. Houben et al., 2016).

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Cyril Marsaux at cmarsaux@ilsieurope.be

Task Force Members

Dr René Crevel – Chair Unilever UK
Mr Stefan Ronsmans – Vice-Chair The Coca-Cola Company BE
Prof. Barbara Ballmer-Weber – Co-Chair University Hospital Zürich CH
Dr Neil Buck General Mills CH
Dr Helen Clegg Mars UK
Dr Rocío Fernández Cantón Monsanto Europe BE
Dr Simon Flanagan Mondelēz Europe UK
Dr Jame Hindley Indoor Biotechnologies UK
Dr Lauren Kent PepsiCo International UK
Dr Francesca Lambertini Barilla G&R Fratelli IT
Dr Cindy Lebourgot Tereos FR
Dr Fabrice Peladan Danone FR
Dr Marie-Claude Robert Nestlé CH
Dr Samim Saner Mérieux NutriSciences TR
Dr Cyril Marsaux ILSI Europe BE

 

Expert Groups

Verifying Vital® 2.0 Reference Doses: Suitability  of Analytical Methods

Objectives

Reliable analytical methods are a pivotal requirement for the introduction and adoption of reference doses in the European Union and beyond. This activity will report on the suitability of current analytical methods to reliably measure proposed allergens at various concentrations resulting from the use of the Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labeling (VITAL)® 2.0 reference doses. The VITAL® 2.0 reference doses were proposed by the VITAL® scientific expert panel and adopted in late 2011 by the Allergen Bureau of Australia and New Zealand.

Activity

The expert group is reviewing the fitness for purpose of current analytical methods to reliably measure the presence of allergens at concentrations resulting from the use of the VITAL® 2.0 reference doses in relevant food matrices. This will include method uncertainty, sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility, for example, challenges resulting from kit and antibody batch consistency (for immunoassays), units of measure and expression of results. Intra-method reproducibility due to differences in method target specificity should also be considered. Reference will also be made to existing standards for validation of analytical methods for allergen detection.

Expected Output

This work will identify gaps in existing knowledge and technology, suggest ways to bridge those gaps and identify areas for further research. The conclusions may serve as a basis to prepare guidance for the analytical community, industry, regulatory stakeholders and patient groups.

Severity Versus Dose with Respect to Allergic Reaction

Objectives

The lack of data on the relationship between dose of allergen and severity of subsequent reaction has been identified as a critical data gap in relation to the definition of benchmarks for allergen management. Since severe reactions are clearly of greater concern, both from the public health perspective and from that of allergic individuals, a better understanding of how severity of reaction relates to the dose of allergen consumed would improve safety for these at-risk people.

Activity

The expert group is identifying and reviewing available published and unpublished data on severity and dose. On 15-16 September 2016, a workshop will be held in Brussels, Belgium, with the participation of a large number of clinical experts experienced in the treatment of food allergy, in order to reach a consensus on the likelihood that any given dose of a particular allergen would produce a reaction of a defined degree of severity. This knowledge will be integrated into risk assessment methods built on dose distribution modelling.

Expected Output

This activity will form the basis for integrating data and knowledge into the risk analysis process. The findings will provide an evidence base which health practitioners can use to advise patients living with food allergies about management of their allergy. Likewise, food manufacturers and legislators will be given further evidence on which to base decisions about precautionary labelling and management of allergens in food factories.

Prioritisation of Allergenic Foods with Respect to Public Health Relevance  –  Completed

Objectives

Since 2007, a series of expert groups have established criteria for the classification of strength of evidence around allergenic foods and related reactions. This expert group developed a framework to prioritise allergens into categories according to their importance in public health risk management.

Activity

First, the parameters (e.g. potency and prevalence of allergenic foods) of the framework were defined with a robust method of individual grading. These grades were then used as the basis for categorising and ranking allergenic foods with respect to their public health relevance.

Output

This project provides a framework to assess public health relevance of different allergenic foods. The manuscript has been published in Food and Chemical Toxicology.

Expert Group Members

Verifying Vital® 2.0 Reference Doses: Suitability  of Analytical Methods

Dr Thomas Holzhauser – Chair Paul Ehrlich-Institute DE
Dr Simon Flanagan – Vice-Chair Mondelēz Europe UK
Dr Georgia Albieri* Food Standards Agency (FSA) UK
Dr Chun-Han Chan Food Standards Agency (FSA) UK
Dr James Hindley Indoor Biotechnologies UK
Dr Barbara Hirst Mondelēz Europe UK
Dr Phil Johnson University of Nebraska (FARRP) US
Dr Christiane Kruse Fæste Norwegian Veterinary Institute NO
Dr Francesca Lambertini Barilla G&R Fratelli IT
Dr Gavin O'Connor European Commission - DG JRC BE
Dr Marie-Claude Robert Nestlé CH
Dr Martin Röder Institute for Product Quality DE
Mr Stefan Ronsmans The Coca-Cola Company BE
Mr Frans Timmermans European Anaphylaxis Taskforce NL
Dr Sándor Tömösközi Budapest University of Technology and Economics HU
Mr Raniero Zazzeroni PepsiCo International UK
Dr Cyril Marsaux ILSI Europe BE

*Observer

Severity Versus Dose with Respect to Allergic Reaction

Prof. Anthony Dubois – Chair University Medical Centre Groningen NL
Dr René Crevel – Vice-Chair Unilever UK
Dr Paul Turner – Co-Chair Imperial College London UK
Prof. Barbara Ballmer-Weber University Hospital Zürich CH
Prof. Kirsten Beyer Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin DE
Dr Chun-Han Chan Food Standards Agency (FSA) UK
Ms Hazel Gowland Allergy Action UK
Prof. Jonathan Hourihane University College Cork IE
Ms Sue O’Hagan PepsiCo International UK
Ms Lynne Regent Anaphylaxis Campaign UK
Dr Ben Remington The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) NL
Ms Sabine Schnadt German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB) DE
Dr Thomas Stroheker Nestlé CH
Dr Cyril Marsaux ILSI Europe BE

Prioritisation of Allergenic Foods with Respect to Public Health Relevance  –  Completed

Mr Stefan Ronsmans – Chair The Coca-Cola Company BE
Dr Geert Houben – Vice-Chair The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) NL
Prof. Peter Burney Imperial College London UK
Dr Chun-Han Chan* Food Standards Agency (FSA) UK
Dr René Crevel Unilever UK
Prof. Anthony Dubois University Medical Centre Groningen NL
Dr Rinke Klein Entink The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) NL
Dr Marcel Feys Tereos BE
Prof. Lynn Frewer Newcastle University UK
Ms Magdalena Haponiuk* European Commission – DG SANTÉ BE
Dr André Knulst University Medical Centre Utrecht NL
Dr Antonella Muraro* European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) CH
Dr Marie-Claude Robert Nestlé CH
Ms Soultana Tatsika* Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) GR
Prof. Stephen Taylor University of Nebraska (FARRP) US
Mr Frans Timmermans European Anaphylaxis Taskforce NL
Prof. Margitta Worm Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin DE
Dr Estefanía Noriega ILSI Europe BE

*Observers

 

Publications

All Publications

The Role of Hazard- and Risk-Based Approaches in Ensuring Food Safety

Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2015;46(2) Part A:176-188. Supported by the following task forces: Emerging Microbiological Issues, Food Allergy, Food Intake Methodology, Novel Foods and Nanotechnology, Process Related Compounds and Natural Toxins, Risk Analysis in Food Microbiology, and Threshold of Toxicological Concern.

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