If you work in the agricultural industry or food processing industry, then you will be well aware of the dangers that allergens can cause. There are millions of people across Australia who suffer from some type of allergy, and in many cases, triggering these allergies could have life-changing consequences for the individuals affected.
What is an allergic reaction?
An allergic reaction is caused when an individual's immune system reacts to the presence of a particular allergen. While allergies vary, two of the most commonly affected organs are the respiratory system and the skin. Possible reactions include everything from mild rashes to anaphylactic shock and even death. While research is always continuing, there is no known cure for food allergies, and it is therefore essential that all food is correctly labelled to identify any contact with potential allergens. Common allergens include the following:
The dangers of cross-contamination
To prevent cross-contamination between products containing allergens and allergen-free products, it is important to maintain an allergen control program. An allergen control program will need to cover everything from the raw ingredients to what is involved in the preparation process. When it is time to buy ingredients, you must obtain written confirmation from your suppliers that everything you buy is free from undeclared allergens. Once you know what ingredients you are dealing with, you can create a list of all the ingredients used by your company and all of your suppliers. Using this list, you can mark everything which comes from the group of known food allergens and ensure that you maintain appropriate separation during preparation and label your products correctly.
The value of allergen testing
Despite your best efforts, it is always possible that contamination could occur at some step in the production process. The best way to ensure that this does not happen is through the use of allergen testing kits. Allergen testing can help you to avoid negative publicity or expensive product recalls. Not only should the final product undergo allergen testing, but the equipment should be tested to ensure that it is being cleaned effectively and that all allergen residues are being removed.
To preserve the health of your customers, to prevent expensive legal claims and to find out more about how allergen testing can benefit your company, talk to your supplier about allergen testing kits. They will be able to explain exactly what is involved and how effective they can be.