Food allergy concerns consumers, health care professionals, and food manufacturers all over Europe. It is estimated that up to 8% of children and 2% of adults are affected. The project aims at the technological development of less allergenic food products containing animal allergens that are highly potent and stable and at improving food safety by strategies to prevent allergen contamination. The approach includes development of sensitive and reliable allergen detection methods, determination of threshold levels for minimal allergen intake inducing allergic symptoms, and allergenic assessment of foods containing cow's milk, egg, and/or meat. Comparable data on prevalence of food allergies and the occurrence of severe reactions are targeted on a pan-European level. Based on the project results, a priority list of allergenic foods is aimed.
Methods for allergen determination (milk, egg, meat) in foods will be developed. These will detect allergen traces, be quick, cost-effective, and reliable. Food products containing animal allergens with significance to allergic individuals will be identified and less allergenic products will be developed applying various processing parameters. Educational material will be developed to prevent allergen contamination during food processing. Products will be evaluated by in-vitro and in-vivo tests. The threshold levels inducing allergic symptoms in allergic individuals will be determined with native and selected processed foods. An alternative in-vitro test should be established. Knowledge of i) food allergy prevalence in the general population, ii) the occurrence of severe allergic reactions to food allergens, and iii) consumer attitudes with respect to foods containing allergens is targeted on a pan-European level. A major conclusion will be an allergen priority list.
Evaluated methods to determine allergens in foods, less allergenic food additives and products, threshold levels for minimal allergen intake inducing symptoms, educational material for prevention of allergen contamination, and data on prevalence of food allergies and frequency of severe reactions as well as related consumer attitudes are expected. Moreover, pan-European networks of consumer and clinical institutions and a priority list of allergenic food products will be achieved.