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Clin Exp Allergy. 2017 Jul;47(7):961-968. doi: 10.1111/cea.12923. Epub 2017 Apr 10.

The practice and perception of precautionary allergen labelling by the Australasian food manufacturing industry.

Author information

1
Centre for Chronic Disease, College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.
2
Centre for Food & Allergy Research, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia.
3
Immunology Division, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia.
4
Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
5
Department of Allergy and Immunology, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
6
Department of Allergy and Immunology, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, Australia.
7
School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.
8
Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
9
Institute of Inflammation and Repair, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) and Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL® ) tools were designed by industry to assist consumers with selecting safe foods for consumption. However, a sizeable proportion of food products bear no label, and it is unclear whether these products are free from allergens and therefore safe to consume or have simply not undergone a risk assessment and therefore remain unlabelled for that reason.

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the prevalence of unlabelled products that have undergone a risk assessment process and to examine the factors influencing industry's uptake of the VITAL® process.

METHODS:

A web-based questionnaire was distributed to Australasian food and grocery manufacturers.

RESULTS:

One hundred and thirty-seven Australasian manufacturers were contacted, and 59 questionnaires were returned (response rate: 43%). The respondents represented 454 different manufacturing sites. Manufacturers reported that 23% (95% CI 19-28) of products (n=102/434) that had been through the VITAL® risk assessment process had no PAL statement on the label. 34% (95% CI 30-38), (n=204/600) of products that had undergone another (non-VITAL® ) risk assessment process had no PAL statement. In examining the factors that influenced industry's uptake of the VITAL® process, 25 manufacturers reported on factors that influenced the uptake of the VITAL® process, 76% (CI 95% 55-91) reported that VITAL® was an effective tool because it was based on science; 52% (CI 95% 31-72) reported that it was too time-consuming and 36% (CI 95% 18-57) identified a concern with it not being endorsed by the government.

CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE:

Currently, we estimate that at least 30% of products may have been through a risk assessment process and yet bear no PAL statement on the label. Permissive labelling could be incorporated onto these products if they have been assessed to be safe for consumption.

KEYWORDS:

Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL); food allergy; permissive labelling; precautionary allergen labelling (PAL)

PMID:
28295718
DOI:
10.1111/cea.12923
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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