Every business in the UK that deals with food is some way or another has to take into consider food allergies. Food allergies can have traumatic and potential fatal consequences if they aren’t taken into consideration during food preparation and this can be a particularly prevalent problem at the manufacturing stage.
In this blog, we look at the main allergens which are recognised by the Foods Standards Agency as the most common, and we take a look at the best way to minimise the risk of cross-contaminating allergenic agents: the HACCP system.
There are 14 main allergens which commonly feature as ingredients in various foodstuffs. They are as follows:
Following the UK’s 2014 food regulations, if any of these 14 allergens are found in a pre-packed food product, the manufacturing company producing said food product are required by law to advertise the presence of the allergens. This can be done by highlighting the allergenic ingredients in the ingredients list. If the food is not pre-packed or does not have packaging, you do not need to create individual labels for allergenic ingredients, but there must be clearly visible information at the retail stage on a menu in an easily accessible location about potential allergens. Alternatively, there should be a signposting document showing how customers can access allergen information.
Within food manufacturing, one of the very real worries when it comes to harmful allergens in food is cross contamination. With many production lines producing a wide variety of foodstuffs, the risk of allergens or traces of allergens becoming mixed into other products is a significant risk that food manufacturers must seek to resolve.
The best way of doing this is by following a HACCP programme in the workplace. HACCP stands for hazard analysis and critical control points and refers to a preventative approach to eliminating hazards from FOOD production lines. It does so by running through seven specific principles which are underlined by pre-requisite work practices. For more information on HACCP and how it can be implemented can be found on our handy blog post here.
HACCP initiatives should be carried out at every stage of the food production cycle, all the way from the basic ingredients, right up to the transport and packaging stages. Undertaking these initiatives not only can prevent severe allergic reactions, but also sets a good precedent for future health inspections and raises the overall reputation of your food manufacturing business.
For additional information on food allergy and the laws surrounding packaging and cross-contamination, take a look at our helpful and comprehensive Food Allergy Awareness Training Course.
We also have great resources online to help you. Check out our handy infographic which offers advice and guidance on food allergen labels.