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IDFA Supports Threshold Levels for Food Allergens

Feb 13, 2013

In comments filed this week with the Food and Drug Administration, IDFA said it would support the agency's efforts to set threshold levels for food allergens and called for guidance to explain how the thresholds would be assessed and enforced. In addition, IDFA asked the agency to review the list of tree nuts identified as major food allergens and remove those with no history of allergic reactions or only mild and non-life-threatening reactions.

"Threshold levels will be useful for many finished products that include ingredients that have very low, even undetectable, levels of allergenic protein," the comments said. They would "help focus labeling and enforcement on foods that contain levels of allergenic protein that could cause allergic reactions, rather than labeling ingredients that may not be a health concern."

IDFA followed this same reasoning when asking FDA to review its definition of tree nuts, noting that there isn't sufficient data to support the inclusion of 10 nuts now listed as major food allergens. These nuts either have no history of eliciting allergic reactions or have caused only a few cases of mild and non-life-threatening reactions. They are beech nuts, butternuts, chinquapins, ginko nuts, hickory nuts, pili nuts, sheanuts, chestnuts, coconuts and lichee nuts.

In addition, IDFA asked the agency to provide guidance that would explain FDA's process for assessing the levels of allergens, how the threshold levels would be applied and what action would be taken.

IDFA intends to submit additional comments with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other food trade groups before the comment period ends on May 13.

For more information, contact Michelle Matto, IDFA consultant on nutrition and labeling, at

IDFA Allergens Guidelines and Best Industry Practices

Are your allergen labels up to date and in compliance? How do you guard against allergen cross-contact in your plants? IDFA's "Allergens Guidelines and Best Industry Practices" for the dairy industry answers these questions and many more related to allergen labeling and in-plant management. It's available to members for $80 and non-members for $100.

Visit the online bookstore for more details and to order.

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