How to Manage Allergens in Production

Angela Jordan
 September 19, 2014
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Food Safety

Codex lists over 170 allergens worldwide, with 8 listed for South Africa. Depending on where your product is destined, would determine what allergens you would need to list on your label and include in your allergen management programme.


Food allergens can contaminate a product through unintended exposure. This could result from the inadvertent presence of the allergens in raw materials, processing aids, changes in product scheduling, rework, ineffective cleaning and product cross contamination. What can you as a manufacturer do to ensure that you have a good allergen management programme in place?

  • Employee awareness and training is critical to avoid the unintentional or undeclared presence of allergens in products. Even if none of your products contain allergens, your staff still need to be trained. They need to understand how eating a peanut butter sandwich on their lunch break could have an effect on the content of your product.
  • Manufacturers must take the time to physically sit down and read the ingredients on the packaging of their raw materials. You will be surprised to find which raw materials actually contain allergens.
  • Ensure that you have the best quality ingredients from reputable suppliers. Your supplier should also have an allergen management programme in place, or you may be receiving contaminated product.
  • All allergen containing products (raw and final) should be stored separately. This does not mean dump them all in one area, without checking what product contains what allergens. Determine which product contains allergens and what allergen it is and then store accordingly.
  • It would be ideal to have separate lines for each product, but this is not viable for many businesses. Plan your daily/weekly production schedule, ensuring that non allergen containing products are manufactured first. Ensure deep cleaning between the manufacture of the various allergen containing products.
  • All allergens must be declared on labels. Do not hide under the ‘may contain’ banner. Have an effective allergen management system in place to ensure that you do not contaminate all your products. Consumers rely on manufacturers to have relevant GMP’s in place and for a product to have been correctly labelled.

Have a look at this handy website for an allergen control checklist www.food.gov.uk




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