Industry to Identify Root-Cause Labeling Errors and Mitigate Undeclared Allergen Recalls

ARLINGTON, VA - The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation is awarding the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s Food Science and Technology Department a $20,000 grant to identify root-cause labeling errors and to recommend best-practice procedures for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers in order to reduce undeclared allergen recalls.

The research – led by Steve Taylor, Ph.D., professor and co-director of the program; Joe Baumert, Ph. D., associate professor and co-director of the program; and Jamie Kabourek, M.S., R.D. – will evaluate and classify the latest two years of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allergen recalls, in accordance with explanations supplied by the manufacturer and reported by these regulatory agencies.

Susan Borra, RD, executive director of the FMI Foundation and chief wellness officer for FMI, said, “Undeclared allergens are the leading cause of U.S. food recalls. The FDA has stated that Reportable Food Registry reports of undeclared food allergens increased from 30 percent to 47 percent  during the five year period from 2009-2013. The FMI Foundation is proud to support research which aims to improve public health efforts nationwide.”

“By focusing on how primary root-cause errors occur and identifying appropriate preventive measures, food allergen recalls can be reduced, thus creating better protection for food allergic consumers, decreased food waste and reduced economic burden for suppliers, manufacturers and retailers,” said Dr. Taylor. "FARRP will use its global network to survey the best practices used by food manufacturers on an international scale."

At the conclusion of the project, preliminary outcomes will be presented at the annual Safe Quality Food International Conference in Dallas, Nov. 7-9, 2017. A whitepaper publication will be prepared and submitted to the Food Marketing Institute Foundation. In addition to the whitepaper, the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program intends to submit a paper for peer-reviewed publication.