The world’s largest study of food allergies has recently launched. It will see industry leaders such as Unilever team up with global experts. The study is expected to result in new processes and standards for managing allergens during food production. Researchers also hope to develop a more complete understanding of how allergies occur.
The project, which builds on earlier research, will involve leading food allergy experts from around the globe. One goal of the study is helping to clarify “may contain” labels by finding the lowest amount of an allergen that people with food allergies react to. This research will involve food challenge studies using volunteers with allergies.
Causes of Allergies
Additional food allergy research is based on information gathered in Ireland. There, a birth cohort study is being conducted involving nearly 14,000 children tracked from birth to age 7. The largest study of its kind, it is hoped that the data can be used to track how allergies develop through early childhood. Researchers will be looking at aspects such as genetics, feeding and nutrition, and environmental factors such as antibiotic usage and pet ownership.
The research, known as the Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management (iFAAM), is sponsored by the European Commission. Researchers hope that they will be able to develop a standardized procedure for managing food allergens during the food manufacturing process.
“Food Allergy is a disease that can be conquered, if critical steps are taken,” explains Nikolaos Papadopoulos, head of the University of Athens allergy department. “iFAAM sets the stage for facilitating such steps to be taken.”