Whilst a vital part of Food Analysis & quality control, I am sure we have all seen something similar to this on food and drink products.
“May contain nuts/trace of nuts”
Let’s take a look at the fact surrounding allergens in food;
Across Europe, 2% of adults have food allergies.
A recent review by MedAlertHelp in 2020 found
- 3% of infants have a milk allergy.
- 2.5% of children have been reported as allergic to peanuts.
- Data from 2017 suggests that the prevalence of peanut allergies has increased by 21% in the US.
- Over 170 foods are known to cause allergic reactions, according to the statistics on food allergy problems.
- About 40% of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food.
Interesting reading but it shows just how serious allergen management is.
Recent deaths of UK teenagers from food allergies highlights the importance of clear and accurate labelling. After all, they can only avoid the product if they are aware that an allergen is present.
Sounds simple, but food analysis and quality control is extremely challenging for the industry. Keeping a handle on raw material specifications and food product specifications is very complex with global, multi-tier supply chains.
What are the impacts with labeling allergens in the food supply chain?
Despite the fact that they are largely preventable, allergy issues cause most product recalls across the food industry. This can mean a vast amount of wasted time and financial resources for any company, manufacturer or supplier.
It is no surprise that this issue still looms over factory managers as a food safety fear for their business.
The results of allergen management are simple; get allergen management right and nobody notices, get it wrong then you may be looking at a brand reputation disaster. There is little in-between the two outcomes.
In August 2020 major supermarkets had to recall frozen paella when a Food Standards Agency, FSA, alerted them to a packaging error.
“At SPAR we take the quality and safety of our food products very seriously. As a precaution, we are recalling our Chicken & Prawn Paella 600g, as due to a packaging error the product is seafood risotto and may include Milk, Mollusc, Fish and Gluten which is not declared on the label.”
Statement by Spa
Source: The Express 26th August 2020
Whilst all the supermarkets reacted quickly, more effective food safety and quality control management would have reduced the financial and resources impact. Consumer confidence too wouldn’t have suffered if they could get ahead of the issue with accurate data.
Why is food allergen so hard to manage?
Food analysis and quality control is extremely challenging for the industry. Keeping a handle on raw material specifications and food product specifications is very complex with global, multi-tier supply chains.
Keeping a handle on raw material specifications and food product specifications is a constant challenge in the food supply industry.
Let’s take a look at why…
- Over dependability on paper based systems – Over reliance on outdated, paper based systems is one of the major causes of allergen recalls across the country. Updating paper records can be incredibly time consuming meaning the process if often overlooked, rushed or completely forgotten. This can cause huge problems down the line as incorrectly labelled products pose a serious public health and safety risk.
- Inadequate technology without the capacity to assess, review and cross examine information provided by suppliers – In an ideal world, all information provided by suppliers should be accurate, precise and up to date. Unfortunately this is often not the case. Suppliers may make errors which are passed directly on to product manufacturers. Without the use of intelligent allergen management technology these mistakes go largely unnoticed causing vast problems for manufacturers and stockists.
- Lack of communication between supplier reviews and product specifications – Many food businesses suffer greatly from a disjointed approach when it comes to supplier review functions and product specification functions. When the two are not effectively aligned, product specifications run the risk of being inaccurate and non-inclusive. This can result in serious health repercussions for consumers and severe financial and repute consequences for members of the supply chain.
“Easier said than done” I hear you say, but let’s take a look at a solution.
How QADEX’s Allergen Management module can help you with your food quality control and assurance procedures
The Allergen Management module offers a unique solution to all allergen labelling, food safety and quality control and allergen management issues. It is transforming risk reduction for businesses by reducing the risk by 25%!
The powerful technology uses a series of inbuilt auto-validation tools that intelligently combats allergen recall concerns to ensure operations are safe, thorough and 100% accurate.
The digital based system makes updating information a breeze, while the cross checking authentication tools ensure that nothing slips through the net.
Incorporating effective allergen management policies not only ensures customer safety but also acts to protect company reputation, save time, reduce expenses and increase profitability.