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Food safety and the allergen failures have resulted in the increased scrutiny of companies by consumers to be on top of their allergen controls (which they should be anyway). Allergen Accreditation have drawn attention to the importance of allergen awareness with #allerjanuary. This blog post will discuss the top 14 allergens, how companies should be presenting their allergens and what Fosters Bakery are doing to improve and maintain our excellent allergen controls.
There are 14 allergens that must be labelled or indicated as being in foods, these are: (the examples given are not an exhaustive list).
Cereals containing gluten, namely: wheat (such as spelt and khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats - these are often found in foods containing flour.
Crustaceans - for example prawns, crabs, lobster and crayfish.
Eggs - are often found in cakes, pasta, pastries and mayonnaise.
Fish - is found in relishes, salad dressings, stock cubes and Worcestershire sauce.
Peanuts - are found in cakes, biscuits, curries and sauces.
Soya - is often found in edamame beans, miso paste and tofu.
Milk (including lactose) - is common in butter, cheese, cream and yogurt.
Nuts; namely almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia (or Queensland) nuts - are found in breads, biscuits, crackers and nut powders.
Celery (including celeriac) - is common in salad, celery salt and soup.
Mustard - can be found in marinades, sauces, curries and soups.
Sesame - seeds can be sprinkled on bread, in houmous and tahini.
Sulphur dioxide/sulphites, where added and at a level above 10mg/kg or 10mg/L in the finished product. This can be used as a preservative in dried fruit - it is also found in soft drinks, vegetables, wine and beer.
Lupin, which includes lupin seeds and flour - can be found in types of bread and pastries.
Molluscs like, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid - can be found in oyster sauce or in fish stews.
For further information and a visual poster then please see the PDF of 14 allergens by the Food Standards Agency.
What is the correct labelling process for products containing allergens?
Allergens need to be clearly identified and emphasised in a way such as using a different font or putting the word in bold, this is when you are identifying allergens on packaging.
For loose foods (this includes foods which are wrapped on the same site as they are sold, for example, a delicatessen or sandwich counter), you still have to provide your allergen information. As this won’t be listed on the physical product, allergen information needs to be listed in an obvious place such as a menu, chalkboard or information pack. However, if the information is not on display then it needs to be clear where the customer can find the information pack. If allergen information is given orally then it needs to be verifiable, accurate and consistent.
Being Allergen Aware
"Allergen Accreditation provides the Benchmark for operators to develop their KPI's, systems and procedures for managing the new legislation as well as Full Allergen Disclosure. It provides support and useful links and provides the operator with a nationally recognised accreditation that they are Allergy Aware.”
Allergen Accreditation started #allerjanuary to raise awareness about the importance of allergens and gain pledges from businesses in foodservice to remind their staff of this importance. Allergen Aware Month is all about reminding yourselves of the current legislation, refreshing and refocusing on your allergen training.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of industry failures in terms of providing consumers which the correct allergen information and even prosecutions of certain businesses which have failed to protect their consumer. According to the Food Standards Agency, in 2017, there were estimated to be 2 million people with a diagnosed food allergy and 600,000 (or 1 in 100) people with coeliac disease. As there is no cure for a food allergy, the only way for people to manage their food allergies is to be careful to avoid it in their diet.
Fosters Bakery’s Allergen Policies and Procedures
At Fosters Bakery, we take our allergen control very seriously, and to avoid any chances with nuts or sesame, we do not allow them on our site. This applies to our products and our staff, even in staff’s lunches and snacks. This helps to eliminate the chances of a consumer being affected by these allergens.
From bringing the ingredients, to weighing up, to mixing and to packaging. We make sure that we have separate areas for products with allergens in. At the beginning of the process, we source our ingredients responsibly from reputable suppliers. When storing the ingredients in our stores, we have a separate allergen area. Bringing the ingredients into the bakery also requires separation, we have a separate rack where allergens are kept.
When weighing up our products, we have a separate station where they are kept, and we use different coloured scoops and equipment to make sure that we are using the same equipment when handling the allergens. When putting our products through production, we use kanbans (an instruction card which is sent along the production line). We have green cards for products containing allergens and yellow card for products which don’t. We operate good manufacturing practices in accordance with the BRC Global Food Safety Standard (which includes standards for allergen control).
We test for gluten daily in our gluten free area to make sure our products are free of gluten and every year, we do a larger test which covers all allergens, these swabs get sent to an independent laboratory. Our bakery is also fitted with air filtration equipment to keep the air fresh in our bakery and reduce the chances of cross-contamination from ingredients such as milk powder.
During the packaging and boxing, we label our products with capitalised allergens so it is clear to our customer what the allergens in the products are. It is then up to our customer, depending on their type of product, to display the allergens in the correct way. Our customers are the most important aspect of our business and it is our duty to keep you safe. Our technical team are on hand for any questions you may have about our allergen training, manufacturing procedures and our end product. Please see our technical page below.