Can we Define a Level of Protection for Allergic Consumers that Everyone can Accept?

Although the risk associated with exposure to food allergens has been mostly characherised, the lack of agreement on what risk is tolerable has made it difficult to manage that risk and protect allergic consumers effectively. This study reviews the scientific progress in the diverse area of allergen management and the lack of common standards across different jurisdictions, including within the EU. This absence of regulation largely explains the lack of trust by the allergic consumers to Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL). The manuscript also explores approaches to setting quantitative limits for other food safety hazards to identify why they are adopted. This revealed a wide range of approaches from pragmatic to risk-based, but no clear evidence of the process leading to the decision on risk acceptability was found. The authors propose a framework for approaches to defining tolerable risks based on the criteria suggested by Murphy and Gardoni (2008). For food allergy, the current knowledge can support the implementation of the framework taken into account the sufficient expertise across the whole range of stakeholders to allow a consensus to be achieved.

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