Page 21 - Food&Drink Magazine May-June 2020
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                                                            management plan must already be in place. It stipulates that the allergen status be assessed product-by-product rather than by factory or line. Each ingredient and processing line are assessed for potential cross-contact allergens so that such cross-contact can be reduced to a minimum level.
To base its work on sound and robust science, in 2011 the AllergenBureauinvited scientists from around the worldspecialisinginallergen management, food allergy and risk assessment to form the VITAL Scientific Expert Panel (VSEP). The objective of the panel was to review the underpinning science around food allergen thresholds.
The VSEP reviewed the data from clinical (low-dose oral) food challenges from both published and unpublished studies. The papers were sourced from Australia, the United States
and the European Union and over 3400 clinical data points were collated.
The data included in the review was required to meet defined quality criteria to ensure that resulting allergen thresholds were statistically sound. The data set was analysed by applying a new Stacked Model Averaging program for each allergenic food.
The Stacked Model Averaging program produces a single curve for each allergen from whichElicitingDosesmaybe derived. The VSEP identified the ED01(whichisthedoseofthe total allergen protein that is predicted to produce objective symptoms in one per cent of the allergic population) which were adopted as the Reference Doses for VITAL 3.0.
Allergen analysis plays a significant role in the application of VITAL. However, it is only one part of the overall process of risk assessment. It is intended to provide additional
information to help inform the assessment rather than to be used as a stand-alone tool.
Analysis is complex and thus needs to be matrix-and allergen-specific. It is important to consider the nature of the food or surface under analysis and the processes to which it has been exposed to ensure that the method applied is appropriate.
When comparing analytical test results with concentrations calculated from a VITAL risk assessment,itisimportantto ensure that the units of measurementarecomparable. Methods used should be robust, reliable, reproducible, sensitive, and specific; and an appropriate sampling plan is crucial.
Through the continued adoption of the VITAL Program and the use of other science-
based allergen risk assessment processes by the food industry,
we hope that the confusion and misunderstanding currently surrounding precautionary allergen labelling can begin to
be resolved.
Rather than benefiting the
manufacturers and retailers, PAL should become a trusted
method that empowers allergic consumers. Then they can make safer food choices to stop preventable fatalities while not artificially limiting their choices asconsumers. ✷
       Adrian Rogers is a senior research scientist with Romer Labs. He is responsible for R&D at Romer’s allergen competence centre in the UK.
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