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Procurement

Top ten ‘weakest links’ in allergen management revealed

Recalls caused by the presence of allergens have seen a steady rise in Europe. The number of RASFF alerts related to allergens has increased each year for the past four years and 2019 looks set to be no different. In the year to end-November, 153 alerts were issued already topping 2018’s total of 138.

So, what is behind this trend?

In a new report, RQA Group stresses that the complex nature of the food supply chain means it is particularly vulnerable to contamination issues.

“Allergen management is multifaceted and requires numerous controls to be implemented effectively throughout the supply chain – from raw material suppliers to final labelling and packing and distribution. Any system is only as robust as its’ weakest link and failure of any one of these controls at any point in the supply chain can result in undeclared allergens and a recall or withdrawal,”​ the report’s authors stressed.

RQA outlines the ten ‘weakest links’ that commonly contribute to an allergen-related recall and how to safeguard against them.

#1: Training

Insufficient training and a lack of awareness can be a driving force behind rising allergen recalls. RQA stressed that allergen training should be included in the induction process for all new employees – and ‘repeated regularly’ to drive the message home. “Visitors and contractors should receive training appropriate to their site activities before entering production areas.”

Training should focus on the ‘implications’ of the presence of undeclared allergens, including the need to manage risk and the role individuals play in reducing cross-contact risk.

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