Currently, only 14 allergens are required to be reported on product packaging. The food safety agency recommends adding emerging allergens to this list.
Less known than “classic” allergens, certain foods such as kiwi, buckwheat or goat’s milk are the cause of serious allergies each year in France, warns the national health security agency (ANSES) in a document published on February 15. She recommends making information on their presence in food mandatory.
Currently, only 14 allergens appearing on a list established by the European Union must be reported on product packaging: this is particularly the case with nuts (hazelnut, walnuts, almonds, etc.), peanuts, shellfish or even milk and eggs.
However, according to the cases identified between January 2002 and December 2017 by the Allergo Vigilance Network (RAV), buckwheat, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk still caused 119 cases of severe allergy, or at least as much as molluscs and soybeans (sixty reports in 16 years). As for kiwi, pine nuts and alpha-galactose – a sugar found in mammalian meat – they are responsible for 34, 27 and 25 cases of severe allergy in 15 years, respectively. higher frequency than mustard and sulphites, which must be declared.
An allergy has four degrees of severity which are distinguished by specific symptoms. Redness and itching with or without swelling for the least severe grade. Dermatological signs, drop in blood pressure, tachycardia, cough and breathing difficulties for the second. Severe involvement of at least two life threatening organs for the third. And finally by a circulatory and / or respiratory arrest for stage 4.
Update the list of allergens
These figures remain partial, as they only list the most serious cases ( severe food anaphylaxis ) and their declaration is not compulsory, but they are important enough to encourage ANSES to recommend “the regular updating of the list food allergens which must be reported in order to better prevent the risk of serious allergy ”.
The Agency also highlights the “lack of data” available on the subject, “in particular due to the methodological limits and the diversity of the methods used”. As a result, it is impossible to measure the frequency of the phenomenon and to say whether food allergies are more frequent than twenty years ago or not.
“Based on this observation, ANSES recommends that the public authorities improve the systems for collecting data on food allergens. It also recommends evaluating the effectiveness of the systems put in place to inform allergy sufferers in collective and commercial catering.
In a study carried out by the agency in 2014 and 2015, 3.9% of adults questioned declared that they suffered from food intolerances or allergies. However, these had been confirmed by a doctor in just under half of the cases (45%).