ALBA is perhaps the most influential of the food intolerance databanks worldwide. It was established in 1982 by the Agricultural University of Wageningen and became operational in 1984. Since 1988, the databank has been hosted by a division of the government research organisation Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), located in Zeist. ALBA currently holds data on around 500 brands and 11 000 products from 150 manufacturers and retail organisations, representing approximately 25-40% of the total Dutch manufactured food market. The 'free-from' booklets represent just one of the services offered by LIVO - the National Information Centre for Food Hypersensitivity, based in The Hague. As well as distributing over 12 000 'free-from' lists to consumers every year, LIVO provides a telephone enquiry service and produces general consumer information on food allergy and intolerance. ALBA distributes a further 2000-3000 special combination 'free-from' lists to consumers in the Netherlands. LIVO advises consumers on any changes to the ALBA lists via monthly newsletters.
The UK databank was based on the ALBA system and it therefore operates in a similar way. The main difference with regard to the management of the two databanks is that of funding. The ALBA databank and LIVO are largely funded by the Dutch Ministry of Health. Participating Dutch companies do not therefore have to pay a registration fee to list products on the databank, and a larger number of different 'free-from' lists can be produced. In addition, access to the ALBA lists is not restricted to dietitians, and they are available direct to consumers.
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