Free From: A Major Trend Sweeping (and Segregating) the Food Industry

The Free From trend, which includes all types of food where a particular allergen is removed, e.g. gluten, has established itself over the past decade or so, and is projected to be one of the biggest food trends over the coming years.

As the public and the public sector continue to turn towards Free From products, and businesses continue to recognise the potential of this lucrative industry, many more companies are making the switch to producing and selling Free From products to their consumers. Forcing them to rethink their recipes including flavouring and ingredients.

One of the biggest problems of this migration to creating Free From produce is that allergens can creep their way into any new products, due to cross-contamination from other areas of the production floor. Given just how important allergen segregation is, not only for the health and well-being of customers who may be allergic to certain ingredients, but also for the reputation of a business, it is crucial that meticulous care is taken to get this area of allergen segregation right.

The problem facing manufacturers

Food manufacturers looking to introduce new Free From products into their range can encounter problems when adding new recipes because it will require a change of manufacturing process and segregation will need to be revisited. For example, a company creating a sugar-free product will have to implement an entirely new set of procedures to ensure the product does not come into contact with other products using sugar.

Allergen segregation is therefore something that needs further development across the UK. At Klipspringer, we have published a white paper detailing some clear and concise ideas to help your company to overcome any problems related to allergen segregation which you can download here

Checking your suppliers

Even if you do everything right on your own production floor, if your ingredients are already tainted with allergens further back in the supply chain, then there is little you can do to truly create a Free From product. Be sure to check with your suppliers about the allergen content of their ingredients and their own allergen segregation procedures. You should also conduct your own stringent testing before ingredients are used in your production line to ensure that your products remain uncontaminated.

Meticulous production processes

There are some seemingly minor yet fatal mistakes a business can make during production, such as using the same utensils for different products, which will lead to contamination. The best approach is to establish a meticulous and orderly procedure where everything is in its right place and there is no question of it being able to cross-contaminate. One important way of doing this is by using color-coded equipment and shadow boards, so that all of your employees know exactly what to use and where to keep it, and therefore do not mistakenly spread certain allergens into other products.

Invest in thorough team training

Implementing strategies and procedures to guard against allergen cross contamination, is all in vain if your employees are not up to the task of enforcing them. This is why it’s vital to ensure that your employees receive the correct level of training which is both thorough and up to date. Not only should you train employees to adhere to any new standards immediately, but you also need a degree of regularity to your training so that your employees are always on top of any new developments.

Frequently analyse your system

Very rarely do businesses get things exactly right first time around, so you need to approach your system of allergen segregation procedures with this mindset, and continually audit yourself. This will help you to detect any glaring flaws in your system as well as highlight any minor inefficiencies that could be improved upon.

Let Klipspringer help you achieve compliance with confidence – talk to one of our helpful customer service team about our range of colour coded products, shadow boards and our new SegriScreen Connected.

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