Food allergy is an important health issue due to the potential for severe and life threatening reactions. Rigorous declaration requirements are considered the most appropriate risk management option for food allergens since even small amounts of the allergen may trigger allergic reactions. Australia and New Zealand were among the first countries to recognise the need to regulate food allergens with the introduction, in 2002, of mandatory declaration requirements in the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code.
In October 2006, the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council requested FSANZ to review the regulatory management of food allergens. The overall aim of the review is to determine whether, in the context of current scientific knowledge, improvements can be made to the existing regulatory approach which allows consumer choice but does not compromise the safety of allergic consumers.
A key task for the review was to identify specific areas of allergen regulation that could benefit from emerging scientific evidence. Six issues were outlined in a consultation paper, released by FSANZ in March 2008, targeting major stakeholders in Australia and New Zealand including allergy support groups, the food industry, allergy clinicians and the jurisdictions.
In reviewing these issues, FSANZ considered informationM from a variety of sources including allergic consumers, the food industry, the scientific and medical literature and expert opinion, as well as international regulations. Although our understanding of food allergy has improved significantly in the past decade, a number of scientific questions are yet to be resolved.
The review identified information gaps which need to be addressed in order to strengthen the evidence base.
The review also provided an opportunity to consider the current requirements in light of industry initiatives to improve allergen control practices in the food production and processing environment.
This report presents the findings and conclusions of the review, and makes recommendations. One key recommendation, which has already been implemented by FSANZ, is the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Group to facilitate the integration of emerging clinical evidence into regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to food allergens.
Review of the regulatory management of food allergens (1.52mb pdf) | (word 1.13mb)