A Framework to Help Define an Appropriate Level of Protection for Consumers with Food Allergies

Stakeholders increasingly accept that zero risk is unachievable in complex systems like food production. What is tolerable, both in terms of how many are affected and in what way, must therefore be defined if risk management objectives are to be put in place and their effectiveness monitored. The overall objective of the work is to elaborate a framework within which tolerable risk in relation to allergic reactions to food can be defined.

The expert group will gather relevant stakeholders to consider and define what constitutes tolerable risk in the context of allergic reactions to food attributable to unintended allergen presence (UAP) and decisions on the use of precautionary allergen labelling (PAL). This consideration will focus on the incidence of reactions and their characteristics (symptom severity), but will also include factors such as quality of life considerations. The expert group will identify possible benchmarks from other areas of food safety with similar manifestations of risk (e.g. microbiology). The expert group will then try to develop a consensus on a framework within which tolerable risk arising from UAP can be defined. Where possible, it will attempt to define such a framework in quantitative terms, which can be translated to risk analysis.

Expected Output
The conclusions of the expert group will be captured in one or more peer-reviewed publications, but will also be subjected to critical scrutiny at a wider stakeholder workshop. The work will lead to improved food allergen management and, indirectly, to improved health and quality of life of allergic patients.