Evaluation values for traces of allergens in foodstuffs

Due to a lack of statutory regulations governing potentially allergenic cross-contacts, the German ALTS (committee of experts on food hygiene and food from animal origin) has published "evaluation parameters" regarding traces of allergens in the sense of Annex II of the EU Food Information Regulation (FIR) in consultation with the ALS (German committee of experts on food chemistry).

Action values for orientation in food monitoring

If exceeded, these action values ("measuring results") may necessitate verification of the food information. Action values are meant as an orientation in official food monitoring. If, for instance, the action value for the concentration of a detected allergen that is neither declared as an ingredient nor as a trace is exceeded, "preparation of an assessment" (i.e. a complaint) may be advisable. This assessment would then contain a recommendation to investigate whether the allergenic constituent entered the food via an ingredient that is part of the recipe - which would imply that the provisions of the Food Information Regulation were not observed. If the product was declared as "free from..." and the detected concentration of the stated allergenic substance exceeds the action value, the product must usually be assessed as dangerous to health in the sense of Art. 14 Section 2a) in conjunction with Section 4c) of Regulation (EU) No. 178/2002.

Risk assessment based on threshold doses

When assessing the risk in individual cases, the threshold value doses of the allergenic substance's protein (e.g. peanut protein) apply. The value is then converted to the food ("peanut") based on the protein concentration. Next, the predictable consumption quantities of the relevant product must be considered so as to determine whether the consumer's health is at risk from non-identifiable allergen entry.

No binding limit values

The stated action values and threshold value doses do not constitute normative, i.e. statutory, limit values. Rather, these evaluation parameters represent harmonized internal orientation values for the German monitoring authorities. It must also be taken into account that some of these values are based on analytical limitations and not on real limit values that have been clinically confirmed.

This article was written in cooperation with the lawyer Mr. RA Markus Grube of KRELL WEYLAND GRUBE Rechtsanwälte (Gummersbach, Germany).