On the 26th of November, ImpARAS shared its results and ideas on allergenicity risk assessment of novel foods with representatives from DG Research & Innovation, Unit F3 – Agri-Food Chain, ETP Food for life, EFSA, Europabio and FooddrinkEurope.
Kitty Verhoeckx gave an introduction to novel foods, food allergy and the COST Action ImpARAS (Improved Allergenicity Risk Assessment Strategy). The main messages were:
- Newly introduced foods should not add to the burden of allergy.
- Prevalence of food allergy is 2-4% and is comparable to coronary heart disease, asthma and diabetes.
- Currently, food allergy assessments focus on the impact of a protein on individuals with pre-existing allergies (cross-reactivity), and hardly address sensitisation (induction of new allergies).
- De novo sensitization by novel proteins is possible as was demonstrated for mealworm proteins.
- Food allergy risk assessment is not fully developed. The Interplay between different factors, such as protein characteristics, mechanisms of sensitization and the allergic individual remains unclear.
- Consistency and methods used for allergy assessments are not scientifically sound, validated and harmonized.
- ImpARAS network identified gaps, new ideas and plans for an improved allergenicity assessment strategy and several papers produced by ImpARAS were shared.
- To take this Action forward, a multidisciplinary European funded project is needed to undertake the necessary research and to develop and foster acceptance of an improved strategy.
- The improved allergy risk assessment will enable the safe introduction of novel and more sustainable protein sources while protecting humans from food allergy by better predicting the potential allergenicity
After a good discussion all participants shared the opinion that the development of allergy assessment methods will improve innovation and the current lack of good validated and scientifically sound strategies for allergy risk assessment is blocking the introduction of novel foods. Furthermore,
food allergy assessment is not fully developed yet and needs attention, while assessment for nutritional, microbial and toxicological risks are more clear, scientifically sound and harmonized. We need to define targets for allergy risk management decision making to specify where methods in the risk assessment strategy have to predict for. For this a stakeholder meeting is needed with risk assessors and risk managers.
The EU commission is aware of the fact that more attention has to be given to food safety assessments and will organize a special workshop on this in January 2018.