Food labeling issues in patients with severe food allergies: solving a hamlet-like doubt

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Purpose of review

We review the laws on labeling in the international community, the difficulties they pose to the food manufacturers to prepare the food labels and the methodologies to determine the concentration of potential allergens in foods.

Recent findings

European Food Safety Authority and International Life Sciences Institute Europe are evaluating strategies to identify the threshold level of allergen that can trigger a reaction in individuals. The most used techniques to detect the presence of protein in food are Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, polymerase chain reaction and real time polymerase chain reaction. Researchers are now trying to apply proteomics to estimate the amount of protein within the food.

Recent findings

In order to protect the health of consumers, the Codex Alimentarius Commission updates constantly the list of allergens. In response to these regulations, some industries have also added some precautionary allergen labeling (PAL). It was generally agreed that PAL statements needed to be visible, simple, and safe. It was suggested that PAL be standardized, an action that would occur if the ‘Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling’ process was made mandatory.


So far, no laboratory technique is able to reassure the consumers about the composition of foods found on the packaging. International authorities produced increasingly stringent laws, but more is still to do.

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