Tag Archives allergen

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a public consultation on a draft scientific opinion evaluating “allergenic foods and food ingredients for labeling purposes.” Prepared by EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), the new draft updates previous scientific opinions “relative to food ingredients or substances with known allergenic potential listed in Annex IIIa of 2003/89/EC,” including cereals containing gluten, milk and dairy products, eggs, nuts, peanuts, soy, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, celery, lupin, sesame, mustard, and sulfites. To this end, NDA addresses the following topics: (i) “the prevalence of food allergies in unselected populations”; (ii) “proteins identified as food allergens”; (iii) “cross-reactivities”; (iv) “the effects of food processing on allergenicity of foods and ingredients”; (v) “methods for the detection of allergens and allergenic foods”; (vi) “doses observed to trigger adverse reactions in sensitive individuals”; and (vii) “approaches used to derive individual and population thresholds for selected allergenic…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued draft guidance intended to help the food industry prepare submissions for obtaining exemptions from the labeling requirements for major food allergens. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) requires that food labels identify products containing major food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans). Because an ingredient derived from a major food allergen may be modified to such an extent that it does not contain allergenic protein or does not cause an allergic response that poses a risk to human health, FALCPA apparently provides two processes through which manufacturers can obtain an exemption from this labeling requirement for a specific ingredient. An ingredient may be exempted through submission and approval of either (i) a petition containing scientific evidence which demonstrates that the ingredient “does not cause an allergic response that poses a…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued guidance for identifying, controlling and labeling allergens and other ingredients of public health concern through hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans, standard operating procedures (SOPs) or other prerequisite programs. Geared toward meat and poultry products, the guidance seeks to ensure “that product labels declare all ingredients, as required in the regulations, and that the product does not contain undeclared allergens or other undeclared ingredients.” In particular, the agency points to “a sustained increase in the number of recalls of FSIS-regulated products that contained undeclared allergens,” noting that such recalls are “preventable, as many have been due to ingredient changes, product changes, products in the wrong package, or products with misprinted labels.” In addition to establishing best practices for SOPs and HACCP plans, the recommendations clarify how to properly process, handle, store, and label a product…

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that an advertisement for a range of lactose-free products made “sufficiently clear that the Lactofree products were not suitable for dairy allergy sufferers but were suitable for those intolerant to lactose.” Responding to a complaint alleging that the ad failed to adequately differentiate between lactose intolerance and dairy allergy, Arla Foods Ltd. reportedly noted that its TV commercial included an on-screen footnote stipulating that the products displayed were “Not suitable for milk allergy  sufferers,” and that consumers in doubt should consult their physician. Warning that the ad’s voice-over—“Listen up hedgehogs, you’re not intolerant to dairy, you’re just intolerant to lactose, the sugars in dairy”—could be misunderstood as a stand-alone statement, ASA nevertheless agreed with Arla’s position, dismissing the complaint on the ground that the on-screen text not only provided a clear reference to milk allergy, but also instructed consumers to “Search Lactofree”…

According to data recently issued by Stericycle Expert Solutions, the number of food recalls documented by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the third quarter (Q3) of 2013 declined 14 percent compared to the previous quarter. Of the foods recalled, 44 percent, an increase of 8 percent from the previous quarter, were classified as Class I recalls, which means they can potentially cause illness or death. The volume of Q3 recalls—seven million units—however, doubled the number of units recalled in Q2, with a 17-percent increase in the number of companies involved. According to FDA, one recall affected 2.5 million units, three recalls affected between 500,000 and one million units, and eight recalls affected between 100,000 and 500,000 units. As in previous years, allergens were the single largest cause of food recalls, representing more than 40 percent of recalls reported during Q3. One company was involved in 24, or more…

An August 7, 2013, Slate article by Genetic Literacy Project Executive Director Jon Entine has criticized a recent magazine story allegedly linking eosinophilic disorder—“a multisystemic condition in which white blood cells overproduce in response to allergens”—to genetically modified (GM) corn, calling out Elle writer Caitlin Shetterly for stoking “conspiratorial fears that the government is covering up evidence that GMO foods can damage the public health.” According to Entine, the article in question “was particularly appalling” insofar as it failed to produce any evidence or tests to confirm the “unusual diagnosis” that GMO foods caused Shetterly’s autoimmune disorder. Instead, Entine argues, Shetterly relied on a “journalistic trick… to frame a settled issue in the scientific community as a mystery or a controversy.” “There has not been one study that links the genetically engineered corn or any approved genetically modified food on the market to allergies,” University of California, Davis, plant geneticist…

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has asked Dannon to stop using carmine—a dye reportedly derived from the dried, crushed bodies of cochineal insects—to fruit-flavored yogurt to give it a pink color. According to the advocacy watchdog, Dannon’s practice not only cheats consumers, “who might expect that the named fruits—and not the unnamed creepy crawlies— are providing the color,” but also puts consumers at risk because it has been linked to allergic reactions ranging from hives to anaphylactic shock. See CSPI News Release, July 24, 2013.  

Research based on the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase Three has reportedly linked fast food consumption to asthma and eczema severity in kids. Philippa Ellwood, et al., “Do fast foods cause asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema? Global findings from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase Three,” Thorax, January 2013. Analyzing data from more than 319,000 13- to 14-year-old adolescents in 51 countries and more than 181,000 6- to 7-year-old children in 31 countries, the study evidently relied on written questionnaires that asked participants about their asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema symptoms, as well as their dietary habits. In addition to “a potential protective effect on severe asthma… associated with consumption of fruit ≥3 times per week,” the results allegedly found that children and adolescents who consumed fast food three or more times per week had an increased risk of severe asthma, severe rhinoconjunctivitis…

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking comments and other information, including data, to help determine whether the agency can establish regulatory thresholds for major food allergens such as milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. In a recent notice, FDA states that although “[We have] used several risk management strategies to reduce the risk from unlabeled major food allergens, such as targeted inspections or discussions with industry organizations, we have not established regulatory thresholds or action levels for major food allergens. The establishment of regulatory thresholds or action levels for major food allergens would help us determine whether, or what type of, enforcement action is appropriate when specific problems are identified and also help us establish a clear standard… Regulatory thresholds also would help industry to conduct allergen hazard analyses and develop standards for evaluating the effectiveness of allergen preventive controls.” In particular, FDA…

According to Nestlé Australia, some consumers feeding their babies NAN H.A. [hypoallergenic] 1 Gold® infant formula have complained about alleged adverse health effects. A news source indicates that purchasers have reported in online reviews that their children have experienced rashes, dark green stools, dehydration, and vomiting, among other symptoms. Calling product safety and quality a “non-negotiable priority for the company” Nestlé, which has been testing the product, further states on its website that results “to date confirm there is no food safety issue.” The company apparently reformulated the product in 2011, replacing calcium chloride with potassium chloride to produce “a better taste and a smoother texture to the powder,” and otherwise improving its “nutritional profile.” See Nestlé News Release, August 8, 2012; FoodProductionDaily.com, August 9, 2012.

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