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Food allergy scientists meet at LGC

28 Jul 2010

Scientists, food industry and regulators focus on helping food allergic consumers

Scientists from the Food and Health Network of the Institute of Food Research (IFR) involved in developing better tests for food allergens gathered recently at LGC, an international science-based company and recognised market leader in analytical, forensic and diagnostic services and reference materials, to share the latest developments in tackling the growing problem of food allergy. 

Headed by IFR’s Professor Clare Mills, experts from LGC, research organisations, bioanalytical companies, food manufacturers and food regulation authorities discussed the key issues that are being tackled.

These included preliminary outcomes from the EuroPrevall study, the largest ever study of its kind into the prevalence of food allergy, organised by IFR and involving 63 partner organisations in 23 countries.

The number of people affected by food allergy appears to be rising. Food allergy can severely impact on the quality of life of allergic consumers and their families, something that the EuroPrevall study has been assessing. The risk of death through anaphylaxis affects all aspects of allergic consumers’ life and behaviour, as well presenting a significant challenge to society as a whole. 

Regulators, the food industry and health care systems must meet the significant public health challenge posed by allergies. The detection and measurement of allergens in food is fundamental to sound evidence for public policy development and crucial to the success of regulatory and food industry allergen management strategies.

Opportunities for scientists to present the latest, most accurate research, such as the recent meeting at LGC, are therefore crucial.

Prof Mills said “The EuroPrevall study, which will be reported in a series of papers over the next year, will add greatly to our knowledge of the prevalence and distribution of food allergy. LGC and IFR are at the forefront of analytical measurement in this key area of public health and we hope the dedicated work of all the participants in the meeting will mean safer and more convenient lives for food allergy sufferers.”

The meeting also addressed better standardisation of tests and explored developments to benefit consumers and all stakeholders in the management of allergen cross-contamination in food.  The future development of a reference material that can link clinical symptoms to analytical results would be another useful outcome.

The work discussed is being funded by the European Union (EuroPrevall, MoniQa) and the Food Standards Agency.

Notes to editors

A high resolution photograph of Professor Clare Mills is available. Contact: deborah.gaskell@lgc.co.uk.

About EuroPrevall

EuroPrevall is a multi-disciplinary research project looking at 'The prevalence cost and basis of food allergy in Europe. The project started in June 2005 and comes to an end in December 2009 although many of the publications arising from the project will still be in the process of being prepared. EuroPrevall has been funded by the European Union and is the largest ever project on food allergy funded by the EU with a budget of over €14m. The project has been coordinated by Clare Mills at the Institute of Food Research in the UK and has 67 member organisations in 24 countries with over 250 personnel contributing to the project. The partners are primarily based in Europe with 17 European member states involved represented in the project but there are also partners from Siberia, India and China, giving the project a global spectrum of cultures, eating habits, and environments.