Improved Labelling Of Allergens In Foods For Consumers - Threshold Values Cannot At Present Be Determined Reliably
Allergic individuals must avoid allergens in foods. Only small traces of allergens can initiate an allergic reaction with negative health effects. Manufacturers of food products are therefore required to label the ingredients on the packaging. A special requirement pertains to the declaration of major allergens such as peanuts, celery or eggs even if these only appear in small amounts within the recipe. However, there is no requirement for allergens that unintentionally enter foods i.e. that
... not part of the standard ingredients. Such unintentional traces can enter a food product during the transportation and production processes and constitute a health risk for allergic individuals. Until now, food manufacturers have been able to freely decide whether and how to inform consumers about unintentional traces of known allergens on package labelling. Manufacturers often use notices such as "may contain traces of ..." Various models of labelling traces of allergens in food products are used internationally. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Max Rubner-Institut (MRI) have taken the issue of appropriate threshold values for the labels of allergenic foods into consideration as part of the national action plan against allergies by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). Both BfR and MRI believe present research data on allergy inducing amounts of foods to be insufficient. Both Institutes recommend further scientific research to determine which amounts induce allergic reactions as well as reliable threshold values. In addition, a number of questions remain for the analytics of allergen traces in food products. If temporary threshold values are determined on the basis of existing data, these should be, depending on each allergen and in accordance with the current state of knowledge, between 0.01-0.001% allergenic foodstuff in the food product.