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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2012 Nov;64(2):315-23. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2012.07.009. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Application of scientific criteria to food allergens of public health importance.

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Nestlé Research Centre, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Scientific criteria for identifying allergenic foods of public health importance (Björkstén, B., Crevel, R., Hischenhuber, C., Løvik, M., Samuels, F., Strobel, S., Taylor, S.L., Wal, J.-M., Ward, R., 2008. Criteria for identifying allergenic foods of public health importance. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 51(1), 42-52) have been further refined to incorporate an assessment of the strength of available scientific evidence (van Bilsen, J.H., Ronsmans, S., Crevel, R.W., Rona, R.J., Przyrembel, H., Penninks, A.H., Contor, L., Houben, G.F., 2011. Evaluation of scientific criteria for identifying allergenic food of public health importance. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 60, 281-289). A multi-disciplinary group was invited to critically test the refined approach. They independently evaluated selected publications on coconut, soy and/or peanut allergy, scored them using the newly developed level of evidence criteria, and debated proposed approaches for combining and utilising the scores to measure the overall impact of an allergen in public health impact assessments. The evaluation of selected publications using the modified criteria produced a relatively consistent result across the experts. These refined criteria were judged to be a way forward for the identification of allergenic foods of public health importance, and for prioritisation of allergen risk management and future data gathering. The debate to combine available evidence when assessing whether an allergenic food is of sufficient public health importance to warrant active management led to proposals on how to weight and combine evidence on allergen severity, potency and prevalence. The refined criteria facilitate a debate to find a meaningful sequence of steps to summarise the available information in relation to a food allergen.

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