Analysis and critical comparison of food allergen recalls from the European Union, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand

Bucchini L., Guzzon A., Poms R., Senyuva H.

FOOD ADDITIVES AND CONTAMINANTS PART A-CHEMISTRY ANALYSIS CONTROL EXPOSURE & RISK ASSESSMENT, vol.33, no.5, pp.760-771, 2016 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


As part of a European Union-funded project (FP7) developing 'Integrated approaches to food allergen and allergy management', a database was constructed based on publicly available information on food allergen recalls in Europe, North America, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Over 2000 entries were made into the database. The database covers a 4-year period from 2011 to 2014 and each entry is categorised into food type (two different classifications), identified allergen and cause where indicated by the authorities. Across different authorities, by far the biggest incidence of undeclared allergens occurred in the food categories of prepared dishes and snacks (range = 12-53%), and cereals and bakery products (range = 14-25% of all recalls and/or alerts). The biggest incidence of undeclared allergens, according to the information from most authorities, occurred for milk and milk products (16-31% of all products with recall or alert), followed by cereals containing gluten (9-19%), soy (5-45%), and egg and egg products (5-17%). Although 42-90% of the products with recalls/alerts were explained as being 'Not indicated on the label', this is a generic explanation of cause and does not provide much insight into the causes of the recall/alerts. However, 0-17% of products with recalls/alerts could be coded as caused by the unintended presence of an allergen as the probable result of cross-contact in production. Construction of the database of allergen recalls has provided some important lessons and recommendations to the authorities are made in this paper in terms of the harmonisation of the reporting of allergen recalls into a more standardised format.