Analysis and critical comparison of food allergen recalls
Abstract As part of an EU-funded project (FP7) to develop “Integrated approaches to food allergen and allergy management”, a database was constructed from publicly available information on allergen recalls between 2011 and 2014 in Europe, North America, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. A new dataset including data up to 2016 is analysed in the present article. The analysis provides new evidence of the most prevalent allergens causing recalls, of the associated foods, and of the proximate causes of the recalls. Data indicate that the risks from food allergens in the food supply have not been reduced and that further improvements in risk management are required. Milk, followed by cereals containing gluten, is the food allergen triggering the most recalls globally, although local patterns exist. In general, as expected, the complexity of the food is associated with more recalls due to allergens. “Prepared dishes and snacks” and “Cereals and bakery products” are the food categories that are reported most frequently. Food allergens that represent a greater risk for different food types are identified. Overall, food recall data provide useful information for risk assessment and management.
Introduction Despite regulatory differences across the world, most countries require the food industry to take appropriate measures to protect vulnerable consumers from potential exposure to allergens. As noted by Bucchini et al. (2016), the food industry is required to take precautions to minimise the risk of cross-contact, an aspect of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), but this should also involve specific allergen control measures (Taylor et al. 2006). Allergen recalls provide information on failures to implement adequate measures. Allergen recall information is publicly available in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the UK; in 2016, we published an analysis of allergen recall data. This is an updated analysis. As in the previous paper, we provide insights into the recall prevalence for different food types, prevalence of different allergens, and causes of recalls, examining as well any differences between geographical regions of the world.
Materials & methods _ Data sources As explained in a previous study (Bucchini et al. 2016), data sources were comprised of the food allergen alerts publicly available from: – the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Commission, – the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), – the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), – the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), – the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), – the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), – the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards (FSANZ), and – the Hong Kong Centre of Food Safety (CFA). These sources were searched for food allergen alerts occurring between January 2011 and December 2016. This extends the previous database from 2014 to 2016.
_ Design of database and selection of fields Allergen categories identified in Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 (i.e. celery, cereals, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, nuts, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites) were used to code the allergens found in the food products. The cause of each food alert was classified according to a coding vocabulary developed by using t
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