Food safety and quality

Experts convene to re-evaluate “The big 8” food allergens in Codex

Food allergies are a significant public health concern. With no cure, consumers must avoid the foods to which they are allergic by making informed food choices that include diligently reading food packaging labels and asking questions when making menu selections.
The list of 8 major foods and ingredients (cereals containing gluten, crustacea, egg, fish, peanut and soybeans, milk, tree nutsknown to cause hypersensitivity was included into the Codex General Standard for the Labelling of Packaged Foods (GSLPF) in 1999. 

Since thenthere have been many scientific developments in the understanding of food allergens and their managementAs such, the Codex Alimentarius Commission endorsed new work aimed at providing food business operators and competent authorities with updated guidance on the managing food allergens in food production and labelling.   

To support this work, the Joint FAO-WHO Scientific Advice Programme, which is carried out  to support the development of Codex international food standards through the provision of scientific advice related to food safety and nutrition, was tasked with validating and updating “The big 8” list of food allergens based on risk assessment.  In December 2020 with the first in a series of meetings of the ad hoc Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Risk Assessment of Food Allergens evaluated “The big 8” and other food allergens based on prevalence, severity of reaction and potency. 

More details on key discussions and outcomes of the expert meeting, chaired by Dr Lauren Jackson, have been captured in this summary report. 

Another two parts of this meeting are foreseen. This meeting, Ad hoc Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Risk Assessment of Food Allergens Part 1, focused on the review and validation of Codex priority allergen list through risk assessment. 

Download the report here

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