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Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2013;30(9):1467-72. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2013.804953. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

Survey of peanut levels in selected Irish food products bearing peanut allergen advisory labels.

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a Food Allergy Research & Resource Program, Department of Food Science & Technology , University of Nebraska , Lincoln 68583-0919 , NE , USA.


Peanut allergy affects up to 2% of consumers and is responsible for the majority of fatalities caused by food-induced anaphylaxis. Peanut-containing products must be clearly labelled. Manufacturers are not legally required to label peanut if its inclusion resulted from unintentional cross contact with foods manufactured in the same facility. However, the use of allergen advisory statements alerting consumers of the potential presence of peanut allergen has increased in recent years. In previous studies, the vast majority of foods with precautionary allergen statements did not contain detectable levels of peanut, but no data are available on Irish food products. Thirty-eight food products bearing peanut/nut allergen-related statements were purchased from multiple locations in the Republic of Ireland and analysed for the presence of peanut. Peanut was detected in at least one lot in 5.3% (2 of 38) of the products tested. The doses of peanut detected ranged from 0.14 mg to 0.52 mg per suggested serving size (0.035-0.13 mg peanut protein). No detectable levels of peanut were found in the products that indicated peanut/nuts as a minor ingredient. Quantitative risk assessment, based on the known distribution of individual threshold doses for peanut, indicates that only a very small percentage of the peanut-allergic population would be likely to experience an allergic reaction to those products while the majority of products with advisory labels appear safe for the peanut-allergic population. Food manufacturers should be encouraged to analyse products manufactured in shared facilities and even on shared equipment with peanuts for peanut residues to determine whether sufficient risk exists to warrant the use of advisory labelling. Although it appears that the majority of food products bearing advisory nut statements are in fact free of peanut contamination, advice to peanut allergy sufferers to avoid said foods should continue in Ireland and therefore in the wider European Union.

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