Allergenicity assessment of new or modified protein-containing food sources and ingredients

The growing world population, changing dietary habits, and increasing pressure on agricultural resources are drivers for the development of novel foods (including new protein sources as well as existing protein sources that are produced or used in an alternative way or in a different concentration). These changes, coupled with consumer inclination to adopt new dietary trends, may heighten the intake of unfamiliar proteins, or escalate consumption of specific ones, potentially amplifying the prevalence of known and undiscovered food allergies. Assessing the allergenicity of novel or modified protein-based foods encounters several challenges, including uncertainty surrounding acceptable risks and assessment criteria for determining safety. Moreover, the available methodological tools for gathering supportive data exhibit significant gaps. This paper synthesises these challenges, addressing the varied interpretations of "safe" across jurisdictions and societal attitudes towards allergenic risk. It proposes a comprehensive two-part framework for allergenicity assessment: the first part emphasises systematic consideration of knowledge and data requirements, while the second part proposes the application of a generic assessment approach, integrating a Threshold of Allergological Concern. This combined framework highlights areas that require attention to bridge knowledge and data gaps, and it delineates research priorities for its development and implementation.