23 Feb 2024 PROJECT PUBLICATION

Imptox researchers evaluate food allergen safety in new review article

A recent review article in 'Frontiers in Allergy' led by Imptox scientists from the Medical University of Vienna marks a further step in advancing allergenicity risk assessments amid evolving food technologies.

In the bustling world of food science and safety, a recent review article sheds light on the evolving landscape of allergen prediction. Published in "Frontiers in Allergy" on February 19, 2024, this article, titled "Research gaps and future needs for allergen prediction in food safety," represents a collaborative effort led by Imptox researchers Michelle Epstein, Sahar Kazemi, and Ece Danisman from the Medical University of Vienna, alongside researchers from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Madrid.

The research navigates the intricate junction of biotechnology's advancements and the imperative for improved food safety protocols. As the demand for sustainable and healthy food systems accelerates, it introduces novel food compositions and alternative protein sources, challenging the boundaries of traditional safety assessment models. Stemming from the late '90s, these models now face the challenge of adapting to the complexity and novelty of today's food products.

Central to this study is the call for a revised approach to allergenicity and protein risk assessments. Echoing EFSA's recent scientific opinions, the researchers underscore the necessity for clinical relevance and the creation of targeted databases to underpin risk assessments. The review article discusses in detail the necessary revision and optimization of in silico, in vitro, and in vivo methodologies to significantly advance the allergenicity safety assessment. The researchers’ call for action seeks to ensure the future of food safety, proposing an internationally harmonized view on allergenicity risk assessments and emphasizing other factors too, such as the role of exposure in these evaluations.

This discussion raises an intriguing connection to the Imptox project focusing on the health implications of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs), including their role in allergic disease. The critical analysis of allergen safety in food resonates with Imptox's concerns, especially since micro- and nanoplastics can be ingested through our diet, potentially exacerbating or even initiating allergic reactions in individuals. This interplay between the review's findings and Imptox's research underscores a potential future consideration: the role of micro- and nanoplastics in allergy prediction. While current investigations are ongoing and conclusive results are yet to be determined, this evolving area of research hints at the complex relationship between dietary exposure to MNPs and allergies. It raises the question of whether the impact of MNPs on allergy risk could become a factor in food safety assessments down the line.

While the review piece highlights the critical need for updated allergenicity safety assessments, it also exemplifies the synergy between research and practical policy implications. In a world where the boundaries of what we eat are continually expanding, ensuring the safety of new foods becomes of paramount concern.  

As we navigate this complex landscape, the insights from this study offer a foundation for discussion, policy-making, and further research, aiming to ensure that our food is and stays safe for everyone.

 

Reference:

Fernandez A, Danisman E, Taheri Boroujerdi M, Kazemi S, Moreno FJ and Epstein MM (2024) Research gaps and future needs for allergen prediction in food safety. Front. Allergy 5:1297547. doi: 10.3389/falgy.2024.1297547