The Consequences of Precautionary Allergen Labeling: Safe Haven or Unjustifiable Burden?

Katrina J. Allen, Steve L. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Precautionary allergen labeling (PAL) also known as “may contain” labeling has been applied to many packaged food products around the world. PAL is a voluntary form of labeling whose original intent was to help ensure that packaged foods were as safe as possible for allergic consumers by alerting them to the possible presence of allergen residues resulting from the use of shared processing equipment, shared processing facilities, or other industry practices. However, the proliferation of PAL and the myriad of various phrasing used as PAL statements are confusing to consumers and serve to diminish their quality of life. Thus many allergic consumers are known to ignore PAL statements. Analytical surveys indicate that many PAL products contain no detectable allergen residues and are likely safe for allergic consumers. However, up to 8% of allergic consumers report having had reactions to the ingestion of PAL products. Clearly a better approach to labeling is needed that balances the health and safety considerations of allergic consumers with their desire to enjoy the widest possible array of foods available in the marketplace. This article presents an overview and discussion of the shortcomings of the current PAL system and explores why a new approach is required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-407
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Food allergy
  • Mandatory labeling
  • Nuts
  • Peanut
  • Precautionary allergen
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


Dive into the research topics of 'The Consequences of Precautionary Allergen Labeling: Safe Haven or Unjustifiable Burden?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this