In any event, all cleaning processes need to be validated using environmental monitoring tools such as process swabs coupled with rapid diagnostic techniques. It is not safe to assume that a given cleaning method is equally suited to removing all kinds of contamination from all kinds of surfaces. RSSL recently conducted a survey on behalf of the Anaphylaxis Campaign (as yet unpublished), which reveals some inconsistencies around cleaning procedures, so it is important to validate cleaning techniques to be sure they are doing the job as intended.
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Explore This IssueApril/May 2008
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Premises, Equipment, and Processes
By definition, dedicated manufacture seeks to completely exclude the physical presence of the specified allergen from the site. Where dedication is not possible, the only sensible approach is to create an allergen-free production zone by installing a physical barrier.
Within the allergen-free zone, all processing equipment should be dedicated and completely sealed to prevent airborne particulate contamination from entering other manufacturing zones. Separate air-pressure and air-conditioning systems are also essential.
Color-coding of all processing equipment and clothing will help to highlight their respective dedication. Best practices will also ensure that each zone has its own changing room, development kitchen, quality assurance lab, engineers’ tools and workshop, tray wash machinery, canteen, first aid room, and even office equipment. This dedication should extend into the warehouse, where all raw materials should be segregated through separate intake and storage areas. Clear signage can be used extensively to reinforce training messages about the importance of segregation.
The labeling requirements mentioned at the start of this article are not applicable to ingredient suppliers, but the overriding obligation that applies to all parties in the supply chain is to provide accurate information to customers. Whether the customer is the end consumer or a food manufacturer, the goods being traded must be described accurately and completely. This description may even provide details of how the ingredients have been transported and packaged, because both of these have been identified as actual sources of cross contamination and will always be potential sources.
Clearly, the supply of allergen-free ingredients and the production of free-from foods are not beyond the scope of the food industry, although the process is never straightforward. All partners in the supply chain have their part to play in ensuring the integrity of allergen-free supplies. There are potential benefits for all concerned when this cooperation can be established and maintained. With reports suggesting that an increasing number of consumers exhibit allergic responses, the market for allergen-free foods and allergen-free ingredients looks set for potential growth.
Flanagan is the head of specialty analysis and allergen services, Reading Scientific Services Ltd. For more information, email email@example.com or call +44 (0) 118 986 8541.