Major food-allergy conference at Riddel Hall

The recent Food Allergy, Human, Analytical & Regulatory Implications Conference brought together a wide group of stakeholders to discuss the risk management of food allergies in the supply chain and the regulation and enforcement of food safety

Speakers at the recent Allergy Conference at Riddel Hall, sponsored by IGFS and safefood

The second in what's hoped to be an annual occurence, it was organised by Professor Katrina Campbell of IGFS and saw a capacity audience made up of enforcement officers, MSc students and food-industry personnel.

The conference was opened by Dr James McIntosh of safefood, who along with IGFS were the main sponsors of the event. Gary McFarlane, Director CIEH NI, chaired the first session in which Dr Hazel Gowland, Allergy Action, introduced food allergy and discussed its human impact, recent fatalities and forensic implications.

Dr Michael Walker, Laboratory of the Government Chemist, then described the options for analysis of food allergens, how these can be improved, and touched on reporting and interpretational issues. Sharon Gilmore, Head of Standards and Dietary Health at the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland described the legislative and policy context in which food allergy is regulated and FSA research on food hypersensitivity.          

Michael Bell, Executive Director of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) chaired the next session in which Carol Whyte of Moy Park described the extensive allergen management systems in place in this large company. Lynn Patterson, (LP Associates NI) then discussed allergen management in food businesses from a training and audit perspective.                                         

After lunch, Dr Brian Jack, Queen's University School of Law, chaired a session devoted to legal aspects. Helen Dodds, Hyndburn Council, described the joint investigation into the death of Megan Lee following consumption of a takeaway meal and the subsequent manslaughter prosecution. Helen Morrissey of Belfast City Council described the compliance strategy adopted by local authority EHOs in Northern Ireland and recent prosecutions. Julie Barrett, a barrister and legal trainer, next discussed how prosecutors prepare for court and what happens in court.

In the last session of the day, Professor Clare Mills from the University of Manchester spoke on food-allergy risk assessment and the iFAAM and EuroPreval reaearch findings. Pauline Titchener, from Neogen, discussed the validation, use and interpretation of ELISA data for food allergens and Adrian Rogers, from Romer, gave an engaging talk on point of use personal allergen analysis devices.