The issue about allergen is a current topic, of which is written and debated, but whose persist many areas sketchy and confused, shady areas not yet well defined that need additional information and clarification. The serious consequences, sometimes fatal, which may result by allergic uncontrolled reactions, resulting from ingestion of foods which are themselves allergenic or containing allergens even only in tracks, are in themselves sufficient to let understand the importance of the topic, responsibility and degree of depth that every deputy production or foods processing industry must to it devote.
Causes that lead to onset allergic reactions or intolerance in some subjects are not completely known, as well as are not clarified pathogenic mechanisms or spontaneous resolution of these food issues; have not been defined tolerance thresholds, precisely as a consequence of subjectivity in response to the exposure to harmful substances for different sensitive subjects; it does not exist an acknowledge method of reference, according to the law, to apply, both in verification phase about raw material suitability, and in verification of product conformity addressed to the market. Finally, the “trace” concept has never been quantified and it is therefore not objectively evaluated.
Given the complexity of analytical context related to allergens and the continuous introduction on the market of new kits or systems for their determination – which boast of quantification limits increasingly racy but not always truthful, it is strongly desirable that, in parallel to the European legislation, they could develop official methods of control, so all operators are able to verify food compliance with tools and analytical standardized protocols.
In a context still so confused, industry has, however, the need and the duty to adopt accurate and sensible rules in order to protect consumer health, ensure product safety and consequently secure and maintain its presence on the market, in full compliance with legislative requirements.
According to the latest statistical surveys, about 1-2% of adult population is susceptible to food adverse reactions; this percentage rises to 5-7% considering children population. These percentages are tending to grow and they are extending also to areas and nations in which previously they were not present also by virtue of globalization that, thanks to the ease of distribution of goods, put in contact “different” allergens with new” populations. Industry which places foodstuffs or diet products on market has and knows to have a great responsibility about consumer health and it is perfectly aware of restrictions to which allergic or intolerant people must undergo, already forced to a controlled diet, often boring and repetitive.
These consumers rightly count and heavily rely on label information, they base on their completeness and accuracy and trust in product quality. For allergic consumer, food free of harmful substances has the same function of a drug and it is therefore fundamental for him to be able to use the maximum effort that the industry can and should apply in order to preserve product warranty.
In fact, food allergy diagnosis still means to have no care lifelong, if not to refrain from using food identified as allergenic; it also means the constant apprehension of parents for potential or allergic children, prohibitions and continue close surveillance, difficulty in consuming eating out with consequent difficulties in social life and relationship.