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Title: Food allergies and allergens in Lebanon: Characterization and perceptions toward labeling
Authors: Rahi, Berna El
Mehanna, Zeina
Haidar, Suzan
Serhan, Mireille 
Hassan, Hussein F.
Affiliations: Department of Nutritional Sciences 
Keywords: Food allergy
Food allergens
Issue Date: 2023-02
Publisher: Elsevier
Part of: World Allergy Organization Journal
Volume: 16
Issue: 2
Food allergy is a life-threatening medical condition of public health concern. The aim of our study was to characterize food allergies, in terms of sources, symptoms, severity, and history, as well as to assess the knowledge, practices, and attitudes towards food allergens and allergies, in addition to food allergen labeling, in Lebanon.

For this, 1100 participants filled over the phone a comprehensive valid questionnaire composed of 41 questions.

Fruits were reported as top food allergens (29.6%), while itching and rash were the most reported symptoms (9.6% and 8.0%, respectively). In terms of knowledge, participants scored on average 67.9 ± 16.2%. Participants who identified as females, below 35 years, highly educated, and from health backgrounds had a significantly higher score (p < 0.05), while area of residence did not have any significant effect (p > 0.05). Participants who are medically diagnosed with allergies and those with health background were found to check the ingredients list and read nutritional claims significantly more frequently than those from a non-health background and who are non-medically diagnosed, respectively, while females were found to check ingredients list and read nutritional claims significantly more frequently (p < 0.05). The majority reported that ingredients are easy to understand (63.2%) and simple to read (61.3%), while allergic individuals agreed that the font size of the ingredients list is not big enough (56.8%) and that E-code numbers are not understood (68.7%). The majority considered it “important” to have the label writings larger and bolded (85.7%), to use simple language (95.5%), to place allergen warning (82.2%), and to use a striking allergen symbol (93.5%).

Our results emphasize the need for national awareness campaigns to improve knowledge and practices, and to lobby policymakers for appropriate management of food allergies and allergens in Lebanon.
DOI: 10.1016/j.waojou.2023.100743
Ezproxy URL: Link to full text
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Department of Nutritional Sciences

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