The world’s biggest ever study of food allergies, spear headed by the University of Manchester, was launched on Friday 22nd March 2013. The €9 million EU funded project builds on an earlier €14.3 million research study and will involve the world’s leading experts in the UK, Europe, Australia and US.
Professor Clare Mills, from the Allergy and Respiratory Centre of The University of Manchester’s Institute of Inflammation and Repair and based in the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, will head the study. Professor Mills said: “This is a massive research project which will have far reaching consequences for consumers and food producers. The evidence base and tools that result from this will support more transparent precautionary “may contain” labelling of allergens in foods which will make life easier for allergy sufferers as they try to avoid problem foods.”
The project will be looking at:
1. How maternal diet and infant feeding practices (including weaning) affect the patterns and prevalence of allergies across Europe
2. Risk factors in the development of severe reactions to food
3. Developing a risk management approach to allergens in the food chain for food producers
4. Developing new methods of analysis for allergen management across the food chain
Nikolaos Papadopoulos, Head of Allergy Department, University of Athens and President Elect EAACI, said: “Food Allergy is a disease that can be conquered, if critical steps are taken. iFAAM sets the stage for facilitating such steps to be taken.”
The Manchester team will work with 38 partners. These include the Anaphylaxis Campaign as a patient group representing people at risk of severe allergic reactions and the UK Food Standards Agency as an assessor group. The project will work loosely with the clinical community, working in collaboration with the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).
The Anaphylaxis Campaign is contributing to the following key elements:
1. In the first year of the project, working with the University of Manchester and alongside our sister organisation Anaphylaxis Ireland and the University of Cork to recruit people who have experienced food-allergic reactions to focus groups whose experience will be invaluable to the project. The aim of the focus groups will be to inform the development of a simple on-line tool that will enable people in the community to report severe food-allergic reactions as they happen (or as close to the event as possible). The information gathered through this mechanism will be of vital importance to the later stages of the project, in identifying risk factors and allergen management.
2. In the later stages of the project, the Campaign will be working with the University of Cork and other European patient groups, to develop a short guide for people in the community who may have severe food allergies, to food labelling, in particular, making the “may contain” labelling more transparent to consumers.
Lynne Regent, CEO, the Anaphylaxis Campaign said, “We are delighted to be involved with this project. The food allergy management plans and dietary advice that his work will produce will be invaluable to the 20 million patients across Europe who are living with food allergies every day. We look forward to bringing you news and updates as the project rolls out.”
Read more about iFAAM here.
If you live in the North West of England and would like information on how to get involved, please email [email protected].