Evaluation of Scientific Criteria for Identifying Allergenic Foods of Public Health Importance

Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2011;60:281-289

Identification of allergenic foods of public health importance should be based on well-defined criteria. Björkstén et al. (2008) proposed that the criteria should assess the evidence for an IgE mechanism, the reaction, the potency and the severity of the effect of the food and its prevalence. This study evaluated the application of the proposed criteria based on published reports. Publications were selected from two databases to test whether the descriptions for ranking the level of evidence for each criterion were unambiguous and covered the full range of levels of evidence regarding seven foods, five known to be allergenic and two negative controls. The options available to rank the quality of evidence were appropriate but needed refinement to improve clarity and conceptual value. The criteria were helpful to assess known IgE-dependent allergens, and to exclude the non-allergenic substances. The criteria framework discriminated between papers with high, moderate and low quality of evidence. The advantage of using the proposed criteria is to make the decision-making process and rationale explicit. The framework helps to identify gaps in knowledge and to uncover the level of heterogeneity of the evidence thus guiding research and providing a basis for sound risk management decisions.

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