Can we define a level of protection for allergic consumers that everyone can accept?

Charlotte B Madsen, Myrthe W van den Dungen, Stella Cochrane, Geert F Houben, Rebecca C Knibb, André C Knulst, Stefan Ronsmans, Ross A R Yarham, Sabine Schnadt, Paul J Turner, Joseph Baumert, Elisa Cavandoli, Chun-Han Chan, Amena Warner, René W R Crevel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Substantial progress has been made in characterising the risk associated with exposure to allergens in food. However, absence of agreement on what risk is tolerable has made it difficult to set quantitative limits to manage that risk and protect allergic consumers effectively. This paper reviews scientific progress in the area and the diverse status of allergen management approaches and lack of common standards across different jurisdictions, including within the EU. This lack of regulation largely explains why allergic consumers find Precautionary Allergen Labelling confusing and cannot rely on it. We reviewed approaches to setting quantitative limits for a broad range of food safety hazards to identify the reasoning leading to their adoption. This revealed a diversity of approaches from pragmatic to risk-based, but we could not find clear evidence of the process leading to the decision on risk acceptability. We propose a framework built around the criteria suggested by Murphy and Gardoni (2008) for approaches to defining tolerable risks. Applying these criteria to food allergy, we concluded that sufficient knowledge exists to implement the framework, including sufficient expertise across the whole range of stakeholders to allow opinions to be heard and respected, and a consensus to be achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104751
JournalRegulatory toxicology and pharmacology : RTP
Early online date5 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Decision framework
  • Food allergy
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk management
  • Tolerable risk


Dive into the research topics of 'Can we define a level of protection for allergic consumers that everyone can accept?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this