Literature searches and reviews related to the prevalence of food allergy in Europe
In 2011, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) received a mandate from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to review the available scientific data on the prevalence of each food allergy in Europe, to derive threshold concentrations for each allergen in foods when possible, and to review the analytical methods available for the detection/quantification of food allergens. This report presents the findings of a series of systematic reviews of the literature related to these aims. Systematic searches of relevant bibliographic databases and the grey literature were conducted, studies were selected for inclusion according to pre-specified criteria, relevant data was extracted from all included studies, and the quality of included studies assessed. The first systematic review examined the literature on the prevalence of food allergy (IgE-mediated and non-IgE mediated) in different regions of the World and in individual European countries for different age groups in relation to each of the following food allergens: milk/dairy, eggs, cereals, peanuts, nuts, celery, crustaceans, fish, molluscs, soy, lupin, mustard and sesame. For each of these allergens changes in prevalence trends over time were also examined. Additionally, emerging food allergens in different European countries were identified. Of the 7333 articles identified by the searches, data from 92 studies was included, 52 of which reported on studies conducted within Europe. The second systematic review examined the effects of food processing on the allergenicity of foods in relation to each of the following food allergens: milk/dairy, eggs, cereals, peanuts, nuts, celery, crustaceans, fish, molluscs, soy, lupin, mustard and sesame. From 1040 articles identified by the searches, 25 studies were included in this review. The final systematic review examined the evidence regarding the new analytical methods available to analyse/detect the food allergens considered in the previous systematic reviews in processed foods. From 1475 articles identified by the searches, 84 studies were included.