1887

Undeclared allergens in food

Food control, analyses and risk assessment

image of Undeclared allergens in food

Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden collaborated during 2015 in a control project on allergen labeling. Products were also analysed for the allergens milk, egg, hazelnut, peanut and gluten. Correct labeling is the only aid for allergic consumers to avoid products which could pose a serious health risk. The widespread use of non-regulated precautionary allergen labeling (PAL) might decrease the amount of products available for allergic consumers. It can also pose a risk since the PAL might be ignored. On 10% of the controlled products, the allergenic ingredients were not correctly transcribed in the list of ingredients and EU regulations were thus not followed. Milk was the most frequently found undeclared allergen, especially in chocolate and bakery products, and therefore constitute a risk for allergic consumers. The results might give input to achieve EU legislation regarding PAL.

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Background

Allergens are substances that commonly cause allergic reactions or other hypersensitivity reactions. The labeling of allergens is the only aid for consumers with allergies or other hypersensitivities, to avoid products which could cause disease. Approximately 4–6% of the population in Europe has some form of food allergy (2). Food allergy is especially common among small children. In addition, approximately 1–2% of the population in northern Europe has celiac disease (3). Inadequate labelling of allergenic ingredients such as milk, egg, and various nuts poses a serious health risk for these consumers. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can affect several different organs, and common symptoms are stomach pain, vomiting, eczema, and asthma.

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