employees at all levels and stages in the food industry, as appropriate,
encompassing processing, retail food and grocery stores, restaurants
and other foodservice venues.
As noted, this training recommendation impacts all sectors
of the food industry from processing to various retail food
outlets. The committee recognized that training does exist currently but that the use and the effectiveness of training across
all sectors of the food continuum are variable and could be
The report contains numerous other recommendations.
While these other recommendations do not primarily impact
the packaged food or foodservice industries, the implementation of these recommendations will have some effect on food
industry stakeholders. One of the key recommendations in
the report calls for assessment of the true prevalence of food
allergies in the U.S. Currently, prevalence estimates are based
upon clinical surveys of allergic individuals that rely upon
self-reporting. A rigorous, clinically sound assessment of the
prevalence of food allergies would help underscore the importance of this public health issue.
Another key area of emphasis within the report relates to
preventing food allergies from developing. Clearly, the development of food allergies is a complex process, with many
likely contributing variables. Disturbingly, the prevalence of
food allergies appears to be increasing, and the factors behind
the increase are not yet fully understood. However, as research
points toward effective measures, the food industry will probably find opportunities to contribute to the implementation
of these measures. As an example, the early introduction of
peanuts into the diets of weaning infants has been shown to
reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy development. The
research leading to the discovery of this approach was initiated
by the observation of a very low prevalence of peanut allergy
in Israel, where a peanut-containing snack food (Bamba) was
popularly used as a weaning food.
Thus, we encourage interested parties to read the entire
report and consider all the recommendations. In summary,
this landmark report provides numerous avenues for the food
industry and regulatory/public health agencies to bring the
recommendations to bear to improve health and safety for
food-allergic consumers. n
Disclaimer: The authors’ views do not necessarily represent the
views of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, their committees or convening bodies.
Steve L. Taylor, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Food Science & Technology and cofounder and codirector of the Food Allergy Research and Resource
Program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He served as a member of the committee that generated the report.
Maria Oria, Ph.D., is senior program officer at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. She served as the director of the study.
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Clean hands are the first line of
defense against product contamination.