Food allergies are a growing public health concern; so many countries have introduced allergen laws on what information must be provided to consumers, regarding the presence of allergens in food. The EU Regulation 1169/2011 in the European Union and the Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 in the USA are just some examples. These Regulations involve food business operators in the entire food chain and all the foods provided to the final consumer.
Retailers and restaurants (commercial restaurants and canteens) must also declare food allergens, as most food allergen incidents come from unpacked foods.
The control of raw materials as well as the identification of critical points during food processing are of vital importance to avoid hidden allergens and cross contaminations.
Testing the final product is necessary for a correct labelling of pre-packed and unpacked foods. We offer the appropriate allergen detection tests for each food business:
- The PROTEON EXPRESS strip tests for detection of allergens in food and working surfaces. These tests offer qualitative results (positive/negative) in just few minutes, with not qualified staff or laboratory equipment required.
- The PROTEON ELISA allergen testing kits allow a quantitative determination of allergens in food and working surfaces. To carry out these kits a small laboratory and some equipment are required.
PROTEON strips and ELISAs kits are the perfect tool for controlling suppliers and verifying Good Manufacturing Practices in industrial production lines or retail food worktops.
|Why sholud we control allergens in food?
People that suffer from food allergy or intolerance to one or several foods must eliminate those from their diet. Therefore, it is indispensable to provide correct information to consumers on the allergens contained in pre-packed and unpacked foods.
What is food allergy? A food allergy is an adverse immune response to certain foods or ingredients.
Food allergies mainly affects the infant population, being the most common ones allergy to egg, milk, cereals containing gluten and fish. Its prevalence is increasing from 5% to 8% among children and from 2% to 4% among adults. Food allergy and food intolerance can lead to similar symptoms, but trigger different systems in our organism. People suffering from food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance and celiac disease, have problems to digest these foods but there is not an immune response. Food allergies however involve the immune system and symptoms appear immediately. These symptoms can go from a skin rash to anaphylaxis that could lead to death.
| Allergen management in your food business
Food businesses in the whole food chain, food industries, retailers or small restaurants, must provide information to consumers on food allergens, starting from the food industries and large distribution chains, to retail and restaurants (commercial restaurants and canteens): “from farm to fork”.
Allergen management should be included in the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and the risk of presence of food allergens identified and located in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.
Following some of the points to be addressed by food businesses as part of food allergen management:
- Identify all food allergens that are present in the facilities as well as any possible cross contamination.
- Identify all possible situations that may contribute to cross contamination.
- Assessment of each identified risk.
- Determination of the level of hazard: quantity of allergenic protein, prevalence and physical appearance (for instance powder, liquid, etc.)
- Assessment of measures in placed to avoid or minimize cross contamination from food allergens and verify the effectiveness of those control measures through self-control analysis.
- Determine the information that must be provided to the consumer in order to identify all food allergens that are voluntarily present or could appear unintentionally.