Genetic modification of food allergens

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004 Nov;93(5 Suppl 3):S19-25. doi: 10.1016/s1081-1206(10)61728-0.


Objective: To review allergen risk evaluation for genetically modified foods and our ability to predict protein allergenicity, methods that are being used to develop foods with reduced allergenic activity, and clinical aspects relative to assessing potentially allergic patients.

Data sources: Information was identified using the MEDLINE database for governmental, international, and industry organizations that have considered possible unintended health effects such as food allergy and how they can be avoided.

Data selection: The author's knowledge of the field was used to select articles for inclusion in this review.

Results: Organizations have created a decision process that has generally been successful in avoiding development of products that cause allergic reactions. Since some proteins expressed do not have any history of human exposure, risk evaluation may be more of a challenge for them. Biotechnology has also been used to try to develop foods with reduced allergenicity, and in future years such products should yield safer foods.

Conclusions: Allergy risk evaluation for known allergens and genetically modified foods appears to be reasonable and provides assurance of food safety. Allergenicity evaluation of novel proteins is a more complicated process that needs to be and will be improved as our knowledge of food allergens increases. Biotechnology can be used to produce safer and healthier foods; for example, allergenicity of some foods may be reduced through biotechnology. The role of the health care professional in assessing allergic reactions to genetically modified foods is essential and should play a greater role in the interaction of consumers, industry, and regulators.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Biotechnology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Food, Genetically Modified*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Risk Assessment


  • Allergens