Publication of an article on the risks associated with milk and egg allergens in vegan and plant-based products in Canada

This article was produced in collaboration with Food Allergy Canada and published in the journal "Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology".

The market share of foods carrying labels suggesting absence of animal ingredients has significantly increased in recent years. The purpose of this study was to document the purchasing behaviour of egg- or milk-allergic consumers vis-à-vis food marketed as "vegan" and "plant-based", and to evaluate the associated allergenic risk. A survey was conducted among egg- and milk-allergic consumers and revealed that 86% (margin of error 5.4%; confidence level 95%) would buy "vegan" products, indicating this label may be perceived as a substitute for "free from milk and eggs". To assess the risk posed by these products, 87 prepackaged foods with "vegan" and/or "plant-based" claims purchased in Quebec were tested for milk proteins, and 64 for egg proteins. Overall, 5.7% and 0% occurrence of milk and egg proteins, respectively, were observed, suggesting that the analysed prepackaged foods carrying "vegan" and/or "plant-based" labels pose little risk to egg- or milk-allergic consumers. However, this is likely due to allergen management practices applied by the Canadian manufacturers of the products tested, and should not be attributed to the use of "vegan" or similar labels. Enhanced regulatory requirements for the use of these labels, and an education campaign on their meaning with respect to allergy-related risks, are necessary to better inform and protect egg- and milk-allergic consumers.

The article is freely accessible at the following link: Articles/10.1186/s13223-023-00836-w