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Managing food allergies

Food allergies can result in uncomfortable, severe or potentially fatal responses. A pan-European network performed a large clinical survey to associate food allergy prevalence with genetic and environmental factors.
Managing food allergies
A food allergy can be difficult and time consuming to manage because sufferers may react to extremely small amounts of problematic food. The only available treatment for food allergy is avoidance of problematic food, necessitating the implementation of effective allergen-labelling strategies.

The main objective of the EU-funded project ‘The prevalence, cost and basis of food allergy across Europe’ (Europrevall) was to examine the complex interactions between food intake and metabolism, immune system, genetic background and socioeconomic factors to identify key risk factors. The ultimate goal was to deliver the information and tools necessary for policymakers, regulators and the food industry to effectively manage food allergies across Europe.

To avoid panic regarding allergenic food-associated risk, good quality data is necessary. As a result, project partners investigated the prevalence of food allergies in different age cohorts, alongside the relationship between genetic and environmental factors, such as allergies to pollen, food consumption patterns and the development of food allergy.

Epidemiological data provided a clear picture of the size of the population at risk in Europe and an indication of the relative importance of different foods. Data from Europrevall clinic surveys revealed distinctive patterns of food allergy prevalence, indicating that the public health impact of allergens coincides with the management measures required by law.

Furthermore, the Europrevall project evaluated component-based diagnostic tests but its major achievement was a multiplex food allergy test using a microarray chip with > 50 purified food allergens. This test proved a promising approach for improving detection and management of food allergy.

Europrevall data offered important insight into the overall risk of allergenic food and is expected to contribute to a sounder basis for regulatory and allergen management decisions. The allergy tests represent a significant advancement on existing methods and promise an improvement of the quality of life of food allergic consumers.

Related information

Subjects

Food - Safety
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