Occurrence of milk and egg allergens in foodstuffs in Canada.
Food allergies are life-threatening conditions that allergic individuals can avoid by consulting the food labels before consuming. Precautionary allergen labelling (or PAL), to warn against possible allergen cross-contamination, is widely used by food industries, reducing the food choices for allergic individuals. In Canada, there is limited information on the actual occurrence of allergens in products with a PAL related to the given allergen. This study attempted to fill the data gap by evaluating the occurrence of milk and egg allergens in Canadian products with PAL. A total of 1125 samples were analysed for milk and 840 for eggs, with 23% and 7% of these samples showing positive detection of ≥2.5 mg kg for milk and ≥0.245 mg kg for eggs. Chocolate products gave the largest number of positive results. Although the proportion of positive results was low, the levels detected reached 6471 mg kg in a chocolate sample and were indicative of possible health consequences, if PAL was ignored by allergic consumers. The occurrence data generated is destinated to be used in exposure and risk assessments, to support allergen management linked to cross-contamination, with the possible development of allergen action levels that would be used by food industries, thus improving a risk-based approach for the application of PAL.