T07 Programme Review 2008

A review of the Food Intolerance Research Programme was held on 19 - 21 February 2008 at the Castle hotel in Windsor.

Summary

Each Programme of research commissioned by the FSA is reviewed every 5 years to evaluate its success and productivity. The Food Allergy and Intolerance Research Programme (T07) was reviewed at a 3 day meeting in February 2008. The first 2 days of the meeting was an open meeting consisting of presentations and discussions on T07 projects. The third day of the meeting was a closed session for the expert Review Panel, Agency officials and the T07 Programme Advisor, in which individual projects within the T07 Programme and the Programme were reviewed in accordance with standard Agency procedures, and recommendations were made.

Background

The Agency has a large Food Allergy & Intolerance Research Programme (~£1million/year), which was originally set up in 1994 by what was then the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), to investigate the causes and mechanisms of severe food allergy, with emphasis on peanut allergy, in order to reduce the incidence and severity.

Since that time the Programme has evolved, informed by a formal Programme Review in 2003, to incorporate funding of research projects in other areas of relevance to Agency policy needs on food allergy and intolerance. This includes the prevalence of food allergy in the UK, identifying risk factors associated with the development of food allergy, and research to review evidence on thresholds for sensitivity to gluten in the context of coeliac disease.

The purpose of the review earlier this year was to evaluate the projects that have together made up the Programme since 2003, in terms of their scientific quality, relevance to Agency policy needs, and value for money, and to determine whether these projects have addressed the aims and objectives of the Programme. An additional aim of the review was to consider the future direction of the Programme and priority areas for Agency research in food allergy and intolerance for the next 5 years, in order to support Agency policy needs in the future.

The review

The review consisted of presentations and discussions on the relevant projects in the context of the research questions and Agency policy needs that they were commissioned to address. The event was structured around 7 different research themes with a total of 18 research projects being presented.

An independent expert panel of reviewers, with expertise in the subject areas of relevance to the Programme, was convened to assist the Agency in evaluating the research Programme.

Outcomes

It was considered by the Review Panel that the Research Programme had been successful in addressing the majority of its aims and that collectively the projects funded within the Programme over the last 5 years have significantly progressed the state of current scientific knowledge in a number of areas. It was considered by the Panel that not only had the research generally been conducted well but it had also delivered a large number of outputs which have been relevant to the Agency's policy and translated into sound consumer advice.

The full report of the review can be viewed or downloaded in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format via the relevant link below. A hard copy of the report is also available on request.

Further Details

Sarah Hardy
Tel: 020 7276 8532
Email: Sarah.Hardy@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk