Unintended allergens in prepacked foods with and without precautionary allergen labelling: preliminary data relative to some recalled food types

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S. Giammarioli
A. Pastorelli
C. Boniglia
P Stacchini
M. Silano


unintended allergens, precautionary statements, candies, wheat flours


Several food producers use precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) to alert consumers to the possible unintended presence of allergens in food products. In the vast majority of countries, the use of PAL is not regulated by legislation; its application is voluntary and does not represent a defined risk that can be communicated to consumers and other stakeholders. Some surveys examined, at the same time, the same product categories with and without PAL to verify the correspondence between label and presence/absence of allergen contamination but no similar studies have been carried out in Italy. On the basis of two recent recalls due to the presence of undeclared casein and soy in fruit candies and wheat flours respectively, we collected 34 samples (17 with PAL and 17 without) belonging to these categories of products. The analyses were performed by ELISA using two commercial kits that target casein and soy trypsin inhibitor respectively. Overall, 11.8% of the samples were contaminated, however the contamination was found only in the wheat samples. The percentage of contaminated wheat products is almost the same in samples with and without PAL, and equal to 25.0% (2/8) and 28.6% (2/7) respectively. The obtained results highlight that in most of the examined foods with PAL (15/17) allergen contamination was not detected and that the absence of PAL does not imply a food is certainly safe for consumption by allergic individuals (contamination 2/17). These data are preliminary and an increase in the sample size and categories examined is necessary to better clarify the current situation of the Italian market. At the same time, global efforts to define threshold levels of allergens are essential to provide a risk-based approach to PAL, and to furnish public health guidance to food industry

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