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Food Quality and Safety in Europe


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On a European level, between 11 million and 26 million individuals, of which an estimated 6% are young children, suffer from food-related allergies. The problem appears to be increasing through a cascade of events created by modern European living conditions. In non-western parts of the world, there is little knowledge or perception of food allergies with reliable data. Furthermore, in Africa and Asia, reactions to allergens and disease development might be affected by different factors to those in Europe


The changes in food processing, food intake, mucosal permeability and immune reactivity to allergens need to be understood in depth before appropriate interventions are possible. This can be facilitated by taking a more global view of food allergies since allergic disorders have been increasing in prevalence, particularly in western countries. If we are to understand why allergies are increasing, we need to study regions that are in transition; these regions would reflect lifestyles that represented Europe one hundred years ago and are moving towards lifestyles that resemble modern Europe. By understanding the causes and mechanisms that underlie the apparent tolerance for allergens in some geographical areas where prevalences of allergies are low, knowledgebased plans to combat allergic disorders in Europe can be laid.

Therefore, it is important to build up strong teams that are capable of conducting research in the area of food allergy in regions where allergies are less common. Most studies so far have examined inhalant allergies; now, however, food allergies must be addressed.


GLOFAL brings together a group of European experts in the area of food allergy to train a number of medical doctors, nurses and scientists from African and Asian centres, by organising workshops and laboratory-based courses. Researchers in African and Asian countries are provided with the necessary tools to design strategies for estimating the extent of the problem and to identify risk as well as protective factors in the development of allergic disorders. This, in the long term, improves the health and quality of life of subjects suffering from food allergy in Africa and in South East Asia. The project will thus set the stage for future international cooperation in understanding the influence of diet, environment and infections on the development of food allergy.

GLOFAL capitalises on the expertise and resources available within the laboratory of European partners who all belong to the Europrevall consortium - a platform of experts active in various aspects of food allergy. The potential impact of the project falls into the following specific areas: food allergy management; diagnosis of food allergy; prevention and therapies for food allergy in the future; transfer of knowledge and technology; creation of a critical mass of scientists; and international cooperation. High European standards are applied for the first time to determine the extent and nature of food allergy in diverse populations. This research is particularly important, with a view to preventing food allergies from becoming an increasingly significant disease mechanism with considerable socioeconomic impact. In addition to strengthening European research, this Specific Support Action provides a unique opportunity for addressing the specific and under-appreciated needs of certain third countries.

The building-up of teams with a sound knowledge of food allergies has wider implications on understanding and creating interest in related topics, such as obesity, consumption of processed food, changes in food production and management. A number of ongoing European programmes on allergy equally benefit from the GLOFAL research results, and partners from this Specific Support Action have the opportunity to join related programmes in the future.

List of Partners

  • Leiden University Medical Center (The Netherlands)
  • Academic Medical Center Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  • Medical University of Vienna (Austria)
  • Institute of Food Research (UK)
  • Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (Ghana)
  • Albert Schweitzer Hospital (Gabon)
  • University of Indonesia (Indonesia)
  • Hassanuddin University (Indonesia)
Full title:
Global view of food allergy: opportunities to study the influence of microbial exposure
Contract n:
Project co-ordinator:
Maria Yazdankbakhsh,
Leiden University Medical Centre
EC Scientific Officer:
Ana Nieto Nuez,
EU contribution:
€ 413,814
Specific Support Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top