In this article, we will present five solutions with the potential to support Allergen Management at your Food Production Site.

It is hard to think of a topic more widely discussed within the food industry than Allergen Management, and with the number of people living with allergies rising by 5% every year*, there are no signs of this changing.

With this in mind, we have highlighted five effective solutions for Allergen Management at Food Factories. From more conventional solutions like allergen swabs and dedicated allergen spill kits to the innovative use of SegriScreens and the new technology of the A3 system, there is a wide range of options to explore.

We have split this guide into five key action points and there are valuable takeaways in each section. However, if you are short on time, you can use the links below to jump to the solution most relevant to your project.

Allergen Swabs

Perhaps the first solution that comes to mind when you reference Allergen Management at Food Factories is an allergen-specific test. But with so many assays to choose from, it can be a challenge to find the right approach for your site.

For some food factories, this will be ELISA, PCT, or Mass Spectrometry. However, these methods are unsuited to a busy production space – often requiring specialist equipment and even on-site laboratories or samples being sent off to an external lab. Because of this, many sites will support or even replace these methods with on-the-spot Lateral Flow Tests.

Lateral Flow Immunoassays are capable of generating rapid results (within 10 minutes) and don’t require any complex equipment. Depending on the supplier you choose, there should be minimal steps involved, so getting your team up to speed should be a simple undertaking. It is also worth noting that despite being easy to use and a time-saving solution, Lateral Flow Tests are surprisingly accurate. For example, the Klipspringer Range of LFIs offers a minimum accuracy rate of 0.5ppm.

You can use the button below to explore our allergen testing range for: Egg (Ovalbumin), Casein, Gluten, Soya, Peanut, Crustacean, and Buckwheat.

The A3 Hygiene Monitor

It is important to note that the A3 Hygiene Monitor does not directly detect specific allergens. With this in mind, you may be wondering how it could be used to support Allergen Management at Food Factories.

In short, the A3 system is able to detect all forms of organic residue: ATP, along with its derivatives ADP and AMP.

For this reason, the A3 system has become a popular alternative to conventional ATP tests (which can only detect ATP), with sites increasingly frustrated by the ATP test’s inability to accurately detect organic residue after common processes such as heating and cleaning have taken place.

Another key point is that conventional ATP tests prove especially ineffective when it comes to detecting residues from: milk, egg, wheat flour, soybeans, shrimp, and peanuts.

Click here to learn more about this subject and to access the supporting data.

Although neither the A3 Hygiene Monitor nor conventional ATP tests detect specific allergens, the A3 Hygiene Monitor can tell you how effectively a surface has been cleaned.

Because of this, before carrying out an allergen-specific test at your site, your team could test the cleanliness of a surface with an on-the-spot A3 test that takes just ten seconds to generate a result.

That way, if a surface fails the A3 test, your team will know there is more organic residue to remove before turning to the more expensive and time-consuming allergen-specific assays.

Depending on the requirements of your site and the risk levels involved, it may even be possible to reduce the number of allergen-specific tests carried out. However, this is something to discuss with your supplier after a Cleaning Validation process has been completed.

In the meantime, you could benefit from reading our McCain Foods Case Study, as it details the company’s transition to the A3 system. Perhaps one of the most important takeaways from this Case Study is that, over a six-to-eight-month period, McCain Foods didn’t have a single allergen fail following an A3 swab pass.

Shadow Board Storage Solutions

Clause 5.3.8 of the BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard states that:

“Cleaning equipment used to clean allergenic materials shall either be: identifiable and specific for allergen use, single use, [or] effectively cleaned after use.”

As a result, sites will often turn to colour-coded cleaning equipment and will use it exclusively for areas that handle allergens. This reduces the risk of cross-contamination, human error, and audit non-compliance.

As for production equipment, Clause 5.3.4 states that, where appropriate, sites will uphold effective allergen management through:

“[the] use of identified, dedicated equipment and utensils for processing.”

Once again, colour-coded production equipment is a popular solution – helping team members to immediately identify both allergen and non-allergen apparatus.

But how do you ensure your team maintains the distinction between each set of utensils?

One answer is: shadow boards. Colour-coded to match the utensils on display, this storage solution features shadows for each piece of equipment. As a result, your team will know exactly where to return their tools after use. Along with company branding and logos, you can also request that instructional messages are added to the board to further support your team. This could be anything from ‘Clean equipment after use’ or ‘Allergen Cleaning Station’.

SegriScreens

Clause 5.3.4 of the BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard outlines the expectation that:

“Procedures shall be established to ensure the effective management of allergenic materials to prevent cross-contamination (cross-contact) of products not containing the allergen. These shall include, as appropriate… physical or time segregation while allergen-containing materials are being stored, processed or packed.”

For some sites, time segregation is a suitable choice, whilst others will shut down the line closest to their allergen-free product to create a barrier of space.

But, what about the food factories that want to reduce downtime and simplify their processes, all without compromising on safety?

More cost-effective and flexible than building a permanent wall, SegriScreens will allow your team to set up a physical barrier between allergen and non-allergen production. Instead of forcing other lines into idleness or running the risk of powdered and liquid substances breaching the divide, SegriScreens will provide an effective barrier that drives food safety and reduces downtime.

Typically, sites will add their own branding and wording to the SegriScreens – making the most of the opportunity to share a key message with their team. This could be a good chance to really emphasise the importance of allergen segregation. Then, when the SegriScreens are finished for the day, the modular system can be separated and nested away.

Dedicated Allergen Spill Kits

In addition to “physical and time segregation”, Clause 5.3.4 of the BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard also lists “waste handling and spillage controls” as an example of a procedure that supports the effective management of allergenic materials.

To ensure the strategy for handling allergen spills at your site is in line with the relevant guidelines, you should consider the roll out of Designated Allergen Spill Kits. This will reduce the risk of your operatives using the same clean-up equipment for an allergen-related incident as they would a standard spill.

It will also improve the chances of the spill being dealt with efficiently, as your team will have access to the right equipment – allowing them to quickly resolve the issue instead of being slowed down by utensils that have been designed with another task in mind.

As you can imagine, using equipment that is suited to another task could result in a serious point of audit non-conformance. After all, it is likely that an auditor will ask you how your site deals with allergen spillages. If there isn’t a dedicated kit, they will then ask how you ensure the utensils are not going to be used for a different task without effective cleaning or being discarded – running the risk of allergen cross contamination. With a lot of sites caught out by this point, it is best to be prepared.

Beyond the distinction between standard spill kits and allergen spill kits, you can also select bundles that have been divided into three key categories:

With each pack designed to meet the specific requirements of a liquid, solid, or powder spill, it should be easier than ever for your team to handle allergen incidents of all kinds.

So there you have it, five effective solutions to support Allergen Management at Food Factories. We hope this article has acted as both a welcome reminder of the equipment you are already familiar with and an introduction to the solutions you could be benefiting from.

If you have any questions about the information shared in this article,  you can contact us directly on 01473461800 or sales@klipspringer.com. Alternatively, you can fill out the contact form below and one of our friendly team members will be in touch. 

Plus, if you would benefit from further resources relating to Allergen Management at Food Factories, you are welcome to check out the articles linked below:

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