HACCP Compliance

Tips and tricks to help with your food safety compliance

Have you considered this hidden food allergen?

Many of us go to great lengths to identify and control different food allergens within our food business. We review and classify our raw materials and finished products for allergen status and we schedule production to avoid the potential for any food allergen cross contact. But have you considered what is in your staff vending machines?

The Challenge

Welcome to Week 12 of the Food Safety HACCP Challenge. This week you are required to review and assess the status of food allergens in your staff vending machines.

To complete this challenge I have included a copy of my Food Allergens in Vending Machines decision tree.  This decision tree asks you a series of questions to help determine the best level of action to take.

Food Allergens in staff vending machines

Need a risk assessment template for allergens in vending machines? Click here

Impacts of food allergens in your vending machines

Any type of food allergen can have the potential to impact your finished product and your consumers. Food allergens originating from food available in staff vending machines can find their way into your finished products through cross-contact. This can occur as easily as staff not washing their hands effectively after eating food.

Under the spotlight

Staff vending machines are definitely in the audit spotlight when it comes to allergens. This is even more so when a food business declares that they do not have a certain type of allergen on site for example peanuts. I was presented with this situation in a certification audit where the auditee declared no peanuts were present on site. After checking the staff vending machine, it was discovered that packets of peanuts and also chocolate bars that contained peanuts were available for sale.

Educate your vending machine supplier HACCP-Mentor-Vending-Machine

If you have found during this challenge that your staff vending machine contains food items containing significant food allergens that can impact your food business, let your supplier know that you do not want these types of food onsite. A simple sign reminding the supplier of your allergen policy maybe all it takes.

Moving forward

To make sure you keep on-top of this issue, add a check of the staff vending machines for food allergens onto your regular GMP audits. If you have not already completed a risk assessment for food allergens in staff vending machine check out this template that I developed to help with this process.  A copy of the full risk assessment tool that I use for my clients is included in this template.

Leave a comment

So, how did you go with Week 12 of the #FSHChallenge? Let me know by leaving a comment below this post.

1 thought on “Have you considered this hidden food allergen?”

  1. I agree that this is a possible source of cross contact but I don’t think it involves just the vending machines. In many places the employees bring in their own food items so I think you have to consider that allergens are in your break rooms and you need procedures in place to prevent them from transferring elsewhere. i.e.
    * Employees are to wash hands after each break.
    * Employees are not to wear smocks or PPE in break rooms.
    * Employees are not to bring equipment and supplies into break room.
    * Employees are to change out beard/mustache covers after breaks.
    * Educate employees on the risks of cross contact of Allergens from all possible sources.

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