With food allergies on the rise—an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies, and the CDC estimated that food allergies in children rose 50 percent between 1997 and 2011—controlling food allergens has become essential for food retailers.
But although there’s a fair amount of documentation available on allergen control for food manufacturers, very little exists for retailers, says Joe Corby, executive director of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO).
On August 11, AFDO announced that it is developing a guidance document for controlling food allergens in retail food and food service establishments. “Several state and local agencies came to us and indicated a need for such a guidance document,” says Corby.
AFDO will finalize the ad-hoc committee charged with developing the document within the next several weeks, Corby says. It will include 26 representatives from federal, state, and local governments, as well as the retail industry, the Food Marketing Institute, and Food Allergy Research and Education.
“Our goal is for them to come up with basic guidance for retailers on storage, production, labeling, sanitation, and employee training with regard to food allergens,” Corby says. “AFDO has a good history of putting guidance documents together, and it’s important to get this right.”
AFDO plans to release the guidance document at its annual meeting next June.