The TRACE study: how much peanut is safe?

In my previous post, I talked about the world’s biggest food allergy study (the iFAAM study) and how the professor leading the study, Professor Clare Mills, will be talking at the next Manchester Allergy Support Group meeting on Monday 1 July 2013.

Professor Mills is also involved in the TRACE study, which is being led by Dr Andrew Clark, allergy consultant at Cambridge University Hospitals. Commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, the TRACE study will investigate how much peanut will cause an allergic reaction and whether exercise and stress make people more likely to react. The study results will be published in summer 2016.

UK food allergen labelling laws govern ingredients which have been intentionally added to a food’s recipe. They do not cover accidental cross-contamination, for example where a product is contaminated from peanut residue left on shared manufacturing machinery. Where there is a risk of such cross-contamination, food manufacturers put advisory warnings on the packet such as “May contain peanut” or “Produced in a facility that also processes nuts”. At present, there is no way for the consumer to assess the level of risk behind these warnings.

By discovering what amount of accidental peanut contamination is safe (even after people have exercised or are stressed), the TRACE study should help improve “may contain” labelling, by limiting warnings to foods where the peanut levels are likely to be above the threshold.

Dr Clark, together with experts from Imperial College, London, are looking for peanut allergic men and women, aged 18-45, to participate over a 12 month period. For more information on the TRACE study, including details of how to get involved, see http://www.tracestudy.com/.

Source: Manchester University, Pioneering study to investigate factors affecting how much peanut is safe to eat.

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