A Path Toward More Informative Allergen Labeling

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Informing Food Labels: Tracking Emerging Food Allergy Research, Regulatory and Patient Care Trends

Food allergies affect up to 32 million Americans, including about 6 million children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children’s incidence rates may be going up as they increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011.

But a recent paper says that significant advances in the understanding of food allergy reactions by studying ‘response thresholds’ can lead to more informative food labels and provide allergy sufferers and their caregivers with a powerful tool for managing risk. Staying current on advances in food allergy research will allow healthcare and nutrition practitioners to provide evidence-based guidance to their patients and empower families challenged by this health condition.

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The article by Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS) scientists describes what food allergies are, their impacts on sensitive individuals and government regulations that govern food allergens. The paper finds that apart from serious health effects, living with food allergies can significantly impact patient lifestyle, especially for children who are often excluded from group activities and peer relations.

The paper concludes that meaningful and informative labeling of allergen hazards improves lives and that more focused research on ‘response thresholds’ — below which risks dwindle — is needed. Authors Neal Saab and Wendelyn Jones write that additional clinical trials “should also be expanded to include representation of all ethnic backgrounds, ages and sensitivity levels so that response thresholds are representative of the makeup of the US population.” The trends are described in a way that is geared toward healthcare practitioners and nutritionists so they can provide evidence-based guidance.

According to IAFNS Executive Director Dr. Wendelyn Jones, “Bridging food safety topics so nutritionists can use emerging research in their practice is one way IAFNS improves public health outcomes for those with food allergies.”

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And IAFNS Senior Scientific Program Manager Dr. Neal Saab notes that “Communicating and staying current on the rapidly evolving science of food allergen research and management allows nutritionists to enhance the quality of their interactions with patients. Emerging research may also lead to more informative food labels, assisting consumers and professionals in managing important health conditions.”

The Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS) is committed to leading positive change across the food and beverage ecosystem. The research above was supported by IAFNS Food and Chemical Safety Committee. IAFNS is a 501(c)(3) science-focused nonprofit uniquely positioned to mobilize government, industry, and academia to drive, fund and lead actionable research. iafns.org

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