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Asthma and Allergies

Understanding the Complexity of Food Allergies and Food Allergens

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Hermans

Bridging a desperately needed gap, FAACT launched the inaugural Food Industry and Research Summit five years ago. “This is the only meeting in the nation where everyone comes together, from the farmer to the scientist and researcher, pharma, FDA, USDA, manufacturers, food service, the physician, and the consumer,” explained Soheila Maleki, Ph.D., lead scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Participants traveled from across the nation to continue their work to improve the food industry and to better understand the complexity of food allergies and food allergens. But the power of this unique summit is providing each stakeholder a seat at the food allergy table.

Complexities of the food industry

In 2019, 40 attendees explored the highly complex system of the food industry. Attendees shared data, learned, and explored best practices, consumer thresholds, potential impacts, regulatory perspective, food safety, and prevention controls. Analytical methodology and diagnostic versus environmental testing, consumer food allergen needs, quality of life, and the latest food allergy research topics were presented to an engaged body of attendees.

Manufacturers heard about consumer frustrations with labels, company communication, and confusing information. Researchers and scientists detailed their specialized work surrounding peanuts, allergen cross-contact risk during manufacturing, regulatory work, the science behind food safety, and good manufacturing procedures. Topics such as chemical modification, risk assessment, supply chain management, mass spectrometry, assays, and peptides were heard throughout the summit.

Next steps

In the in the spirit of improving food allergen management for all, presenters shared internal food allergen training and awareness programs. Representatives from pharmaceutical companies explained treatments in the works, clinical trials and supporting data. Attendees learned about the challenges of encouraging peanut early introduction and new campaigns designed to raise awareness with hopes of diminishing the prevalence of food allergies.

“It is very important to carry on the collaboration between FAACT and industry as we continue to partner year-round on actionable projects in order to improve quality of life for the food allergy community,” stated Eleanor Garrow-Holding, FAACT president and CEO.

FAACT is grateful for the Food Industry & Research Summit partners for their continued generous support to make this annual summit possible.

FAACT’s Food Industry & Research Summit in September will be virtual due to COVID-19. Please email[email protected] for further details.

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