Identifying key priorities for research to protect the consumer with food hypersensitivity: a UK Food Standards Agency Priority Setting Exercise

Paul J. Turner, Elizabeth Andoh‐Kesson, Sarah Baker, Alexa Baracaia, Alisha Barfield, Julie Barnett, Karen Brunas, Chun‐Han Chan, Stella Cochrane, Katherine Cowan, Mary Feeney, Simon Flanagan, Adam Fox, Leigh George, M. Hazel Gowland, Christina Heeley, Ian Kimber, Rebecca Knibb, Kirsty Langford, Alan MackieTim McLachlan, Lynne Regent, Matthew Ridd, Graham Roberts, Adrian Rogers, Guy Scadding, Sarah Stoneham, Darryl Thomson, Heidi Urwin, Carina Venter, Michael Walker, Rachel Ward, Ross Yarham, Maggie Young, John O’Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Food hypersensitivity (FHS), including food allergy, coeliac disease and food intolerance, is a major public health issue. The Food Standards Agency (FSA), an independent UK Government department working to protect public health and consumers’ wider interests in food, sought to identify research priorities in the area of FHS. Methods: A priority setting exercise was undertaken, using a methodology adapted from the James Lind Alliance—the first such exercise with respect to food hypersensitivity. A UK-wide public consultation was held to identify unanswered research questions. After excluding diagnostics, desensitization treatment and other questions which were out of scope for FSA or where FSA was already commissioning research, 15 indicative questions were identified and prioritized by a range of stakeholders, representing food businesses, patient groups, health care and academia, local authorities and the FSA. Results: 295 responses were received during the public consultation, which were categorized into 70 sub-questions and used to define 15 key evidence uncertainties (‘indicative questions’) for prioritization. Using the JLA prioritization framework, this resulted in 10 priority uncertainties in evidence, from which 16 research questions were developed. These could be summarized under the following 5 themes: communication of allergens both within the food supply chain and then to the end consumer (ensuring trust in allergen communication); the impact of socio-economic factors on consumers with FHS; drivers of severe reactions; mechanism(s) underlying loss of tolerance in FHS; and the risks posed by novel allergens/processing. Discussion: In this first research prioritization exercise for food allergy and FHS, key priorities identified to protect the food-allergic public were strategies to help allergic consumers to make confident food choices, prevention of FHS and increasing understanding of socio-economic impacts. Diagnosis and treatment of FHS was not considered in this prioritization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1322-1330
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number10
Early online date7 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Authors. Clinical & Experimental Allergy published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funding: This work was funded by the UK Food Standards Agency.


  • Allergen labelling
  • coeliac disease
  • food allergy
  • James Lind Alliance
  • research prioritisation


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