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Food allergens, foods to ban or to fear? No, but to know so as not to be deceived and not to experience avoidable discomfort. It is equally important to inquire about how food allergens they must be shown on the labels, there are obligations and methods that help us eat healthily by avoiding ingesting foods that for one reason or another can make us feel bad.
Food allergens: what they are
According to the definition that is heard around and according to the words of the legislators, these words indicate both foods and their components, capable of triggering immune-mediated reactions. If we want to define them in a more technical and precise language, allergens are proteins or peptides responsible for the allergenicity of allergenic foods or ingredients. Going to know some examples it will be easier to understand their nature and the effects they have on our body.
Food allergens: list
The list is long but this shouldn't scare us because they are not prohibited foods at all. There are foods or single ingredients among the allergenic ones that are most at risk, which can more likely give immune-mediated reactions, even serious ones. Let's go by categories: Eggs, Milk, Peanuts, Soy, Wheat, Fish, Crustaceans and Nuts
Food allergens: labeling
When it comes to food allergens, the thought is “how do we know where they are and if they are in the foods we buy?”. It is necessary reading and knowing how to read labels, fortunately regulated. In fact, there are specific obligations regarding the labeling of potentially allergenic foods or ingredients.
It could be said that there are too many, restrictions that sometimes have only national value, others supranational, so much so that above all there is a risk of overlapping in a market without barriers like the current one.
Pre-packaged foods can have ingredients that risk causing adverse reactions, especially immunological, and for this reason the Codex Alimentarius. This document officially specifies which foods or ingredients cause hypersensitivity and why they must always be declared. In the labels, of course.
It is then up to us to read them carefully. We remain a bit perplexed and fearful, however, at the idea that from country to country the obligations can change:There is an obligation to communicate the risk of the presence of the main food allergens everywhere but it is not homogeneous in the modalities.
Food allergens: legislation
For countries that are part of the European Union, what is written in EU regulation No. 1169/2011 applies to all prepackaged foods. There are therefore substances or products which, causing allergies or intolerances, must always appear on the label.
Among these we find many cereals containing gluten, shellfish and shellfish-based products, eggs and egg products, fish and fish products, with some exceptions, peanuts and peanut products. Soy and soy products must also be declared and this also applies to milk, milk or lactose-based products, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulphites in concentrations above 10 mg / kg or 10 mg / l expressed as SO2.
Lupins and mollusks are gods food allergens to be written on the label and in the European Union there is an obligation to communicate the presence of allergens even for non-prepackaged foods and even if allergens or allergenisers are not immediately identifiable. These duties of etiquette are the reason for writings that may seem superfluous at first glance but instead they save our life and health. Those that sound like "may contain", "may contain traces of", "produced in factories where it is used", "produced in non-separate food chains, in which it is also processed".
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