Since 2007, a series of ILSI Europe’s expert groups have worked to establish the criteria for the classification of the strength of evidence around allergenic foods and related reactions. A framework has now been developed by this expert group to prioritise allergens into categories according to their importance in public health risk management.
Regulators and risk managers in general need to decide whether an allergenic food or ingredient is of such public health importance that it needs to be actively managed. There is therefore a need to scale the relative allergenicity of foods and ingredients according to the hazards they pose. Objective criteria increase transparency and trust in this decision-making process and its conclusions. This paper proposes a framework that allows categorisation and prioritisation of allergenic foods according to their public health importance. The challenge is to find a basis on which the allergenicity of foods can best be described and a method to combine the relevant measures of allergenicity into a scoring system that prioritises allergenic foods on the basis of their public health relevance. The framework is designed in accordance with the generic risk analysis principles used in food safety and can be used by regulators to decide whether or not a specific allergenic food or ingredient is of sufficient public health importance that it warrants regulation (i.e. mandatory labelling) when used in the production of food products.
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