There is plenty of evidence to support that undeclared allergens are one of the greatest causes for food recalls world-wide. So, what is going wrong? In the post, find out what the major causes are for undeclared allergens, how they are being detected and what you can do to protect your food business.
International Statistics for 2018
Before we get into the causes and solutions for undeclared allergen check out the 2018 statistics for major reporting agencies around the world. These figures relate to the 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018 reporting period.
|Reporting Agency||% of undeclared allergen recalls to total recalls||Number of Undeclared Allergen recalls / Total Recalls|
Causes for Undeclared Allergens
The causes of undeclared allergen recalls can be separated into four key areas.
1. Lack of skills and knowledge
Food labelling laws are made to help the allergic consumer avoid illness and injury. However, if you don’t know what the law requires you to do, it makes food compliance very hard to achieve. Lack of knowledge is not a defence in court so if you are unsure about the laws around allergen labelling in your country of manufacture and country of supply, it is time to get reading. To start you off, click here to watch a free webinar on an Introduction to Food Labelling.
2. Supplier verification issues
Sometimes information provided by suppliers is not correct. If you rely on the ingredients listing or labels provided on raw materials to formulate your own products, beware! Always follow up with your supplier as to the current product specification which includes the correct ingredients and allergen identification. In addition, to avoid a food allergen recall, regularly review your suppliers, the raw materials they provide you and the communication you have with them.
3. Errors with packaging
Packing the product into the wrong packaging is a cause for concern as the correct allergens and ingredients may not be included in the ingredient statement. Another error can occur when incorrect claims are made on the packaging around “free-from” claims. Robust systems, checks and balances will help to avoid this common cause for food allergen recalls.
4. Accidental allergen cross-contact
Allergen cross contact is when one food comes into contact with another food that contains different allergens. An allergen food recall due to this issue can originate from poor cleaning practices, inadequate handling and storage procedures and inadequate knowledge. To find out more about preventing allergen cross contact click here.
Detection and Notification
Do you know how are undeclared allergens detected? Customers complaining always seems to be the most common method. Customers may notify the food manufacturer directly or they may bi-pass this process completely and notify their local government agency.
Undeclared allergens may also be detected during routine testing completed by your food company, retailer, distributor, advocacy group or government agency.
Keep in mind that not all countries may have the same allergen declaration legal requirements that your county of manufacture does. This is particularly important if you are exporting food. If you are exporting to other countries, make sure that you confirm which allergens need to be declared on your food packaging and labels.
Protect your food business
It is fundamental that your business has a robust Allergen Management Program to help you avoid a food recall due to undeclared allergens. To learn more about developing an effective allergen management program, please click here.