1887

Undeclared allergens in food

Food control, analyses and risk assessment

image of Undeclared allergens in food

Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden collaborated during 2015 in a control project on allergen labeling. Products were also analysed for the allergens milk, egg, hazelnut, peanut and gluten. Correct labeling is the only aid for allergic consumers to avoid products which could pose a serious health risk. The widespread use of non-regulated precautionary allergen labeling (PAL) might decrease the amount of products available for allergic consumers. It can also pose a risk since the PAL might be ignored. On 10% of the controlled products, the allergenic ingredients were not correctly transcribed in the list of ingredients and EU regulations were thus not followed. Milk was the most frequently found undeclared allergen, especially in chocolate and bakery products, and therefore constitute a risk for allergic consumers. The results might give input to achieve EU legislation regarding PAL.

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Discussion

Ingredients that are listed in Annex II of the FIC regulation should be declared in the list of ingredients. However, for 10% of the controlled products the allergenic ingredients were not correctly transcribed in the list of ingredients. The list of ingredients on a product is the only aid for consumers with allergies and other hypersensitivities in order for them to avoid foods with allergens. Of most concern were the results showing that the list of ingredients in many cases did not match the recipe and that a compound ingredient (e.g. vanilla cream) or a category of ingredient (e.g. bread crumbs) was used without a declaration of the allergens that these contained. The allergic consumers cannot make an informed choice and thus avoid the product when the allergenic ingredients are not transcribed at all. The analysis presented here shows that these ingredients can occur in high enough concentrations to be hazardous to allergic consumers. For egg and hazelnut, the highest concentrations measured (550 mg egg-white protein/kg and 18,500 mg hazelnut/kg) were from products in which the allergenic ingredients were not correctly transcribed. The hazelnut-containing chocolate was labelled with PAL for hazelnut, but such labelling cannot replace the proper labelling of allergenic ingredients.

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