The largest-ever food allergy research study recently began.

Known as iFAAM, or Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management, the study calls for collaboration between food allergy experts, food manufacturers, and patient groups around the world. Its goal is to examine the potential causes of food allergies and to evaluate ways to reduce risk for people with severe allergies.

“This is a massive research project which will have far-reaching consequences for consumers and food producers,” said professor Clare Mills of the University of Manchester’s Allergy and Respiratory Centre, who will be leading the study.

‘May Contain’ Labels

One of the goals of the study is determining when precautionary “may contain” labels are best used. The labels are now found on most packaged foods, whether such labels are truly needed or not, making it more difficult for consumers with food allergies to assess the potential risk of a particular food product. The researchers hope to develop standardized rules to reduce the risks of cross-contamination and clarify when such labels should be included on food packages.

Food Allergy Causes

Another portion of the study examines why people develop food allergies. The researchers involved in this section plan to examine whether the timing of introducing allergenic foods to a baby’s diet plays a role. Another group of researchers will look at whether the diet of pregnant women affects their babies’ chance of developing food allergies.

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