What is the biggest challenge with Allergens?

According to a poll I created many of us find the following challenging:

<p> <img src="allergen management poll.jpg" alt="Overview Challenges Allergen Management poll"> Poll Challenges of Allergen Management ... </p>


What is Cross-Contamination?

The definition of Cross-Contamination is according to the Cambridge Dictionary ‘the process by which a substance that is harmful or dirty spreads from one area to another’. Let me explain this for you with some examples.

Another word that you can use for Cross-Contamination is ‘all over the place’. And that is exactly what the risk can be when we talk about allergens. Many people have an intolerance or an allergy for food. When you have an allergy you don’t want to eat food that contains this allergen. Of course people that have an allergy will read the label. If the allergen is mentioned on the label, they probably won’t buy the food.

In some countries you are allowed to put on the label ‘may contain’. Equally important, this still means that you need to recall when the ‘may contain’ allergen is in your product. And this is exactly why it is so important that we know how to handle our cross-contamination with allergens.

Typical cross-contamination aspects are spreading of allergens through your factory via your belts. Another example is smearing allergens through your factory via your pipelines. Or even spattered food on the clothes of your staff is a potential cross-contamination risk. I know there are many aspects to take into consideration. And yes, you can start a project on HOW to prevent cross-contamination.

<p> <img src="allergen management environment.jpg" alt=Environment Allergen Management"> Environment of Allergen Management ... </p>

The challenges of Cross-Contamination

54% of the votes say they consider cross-contamination as the biggest challenge. It is important to perform a risk scan for cross-contamination. However, hardly anyone has such an overview. And I know you are very busy and there are so many tasks to perform. Still, I believe it will be very helpful for you if you take the time to improve your allergen management system. That is to say, you don’t want to face a recall on allergens. It is better to act pro-active and schedule your project and start with mapping out your risk scan for cross-contamination. Find your challenges with cross-contamination and decide How you are going to handle these.

Another challenge is when you claim to produce allergen free products. For that reason you need to be a 100% sure that you don’t have issues with cross-contamination.

<p> <img src="allergen claim.jpg" alt="Claim Allergen"> Claim Allergen ... </p>

Questions I have for You

Can you easily find all the information that you need to map out your cross-contamination? What is the route of all of your ingredients? And what is the route of all of your end products? Do you have such an overview? Does your overview help you with your work and make your work efficient?

<p> <img src="allergen management questions.jpg" alt="Questions Allergen Management"> Questions Allergen Management ... </p>

What tasks are related to Allergen Cross-Contamination?

Cross-contamination contains many difficult tasks. Thereupon you can think about that you need to manage your:

  • ‘Planning department’. They are the ones that create the daily schedule and decide which product will be produced on which line and when
  • ‘Cleaning department’. They are the ones that clean the environment of your facility and can easily spread allergens through your facility
  • ‘Production departments’. They are the ones that clean the equipment and belts, etc. and can also easily spread allergens through your facility
  • Personal Hygiene processes. If people don’t change their clothes when the clothes got dirty you might have an allergen problem
  • R&D department. They are the ones that decide to introduce some allergens into your facility.
  • Purchase department. They are the ones that decide to buy ingredients from suppliers. Are you sure your supplier has a sufficient Allergen Management System?
  • etc.


How to Improve Your Allergen Cross-Contamination

Yes, I know this is a difficult topic and contains so many aspects. Where do you start? What can you improve?

Seeing that, let me help you with this, so you can improve your system. Okay, let’s start at the beginning what you can do to improve:

  • Identify all relevant Allergens for your company
  • Find out which route allergens might take in your facility
  • Find out if your cleaning is sufficient to remove the allergens
  • Know your risks regarding cross-contamination
  • know your risks regarding labelling and allergens

<p> <img src="route allergen management.jpg" alt="Route Allergen Management"> Routes of Allergen Management ... </p>


And create an overview with your cross-contamination risk score. In our QFS Mastery module Allergen Management we created an very effective and simple to use Excel download to map out your onsite cross-contamination and your cross-contamination risk score. See for more information QFS Mastery Module Allergens and Allergen Management.

<p> <img src="cross-contamination risk scan.jpg" alt="cross-contamination risk scan"> Overview with the onsite cross-contamination risk scan ... </p>

Training on Allergen Management

All GFSI-guidelines acquire that people are trained. Therefor we all provide a lot of trainings on our CCP’s and OPRP’s. Surprisingly, training on Allergen Management is not common. Next to this, often after following a training you learned a lot about WHY it is so important that you take action. On the other hand, most of the courses don’t provide you the information of HOW to implement and improve your system. And that’s exactly the difference of all the courses of Food Safety Experts and all the other courses you can find. We, at Food Safety Experts, focus on the HOW. I know this will give you a lot of tools to implement and improve your situation.

In short, check out our training. You will have one year access to the online training. This will give you the time to implement what you have learned. You can watch the training as often as you would like to. Next to this, you will receive a certificate that you followed a training on Allergen Management. For more information: Must Haves For Effective Allergen Management

<p> <img src="allergen management.jpg" alt="allergen management"> Aspects of Allergen Management ... </p>


QFS Mastery Program

At Food Safety Experts we have our QFS Mastery Program. This Program contains 24 modules with different topics related to food safety. And Allergen Management is one of the modules. In this module you will receive ± 2.5 hours of video lessons on HOW to Effectively Upgrade Your Allergen Management System and ± 10 downloads that you can implement in your organization.

In conclusion, this Program will give you a huge boost as a professional and for your company. For more information, please visit our website QFS Mastery Program.


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