Food manufacturers are responsible for the safety of their products. They can manage allergen risks through use of a hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) programme.

HACCP - Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. Standard and certification, quality control management rules for food industry.The presence of allergens in products is a risk that manufacturers must manage. In the European Union it is a legal requirement to declare allergenic ingredients in most foods.

An example risk is that allergens may enter foods inadvertently through, for example, the use of common processing equipment, or adjacent production lines.

This may result in a ‘peanut-free’ product containing traces of peanut, for example.

In this lifecycle you should identify the critical points where allergens may be introduced into products during manufacture or where products may be wrongly labelled.

You should also establish a system to monitor these critical control points to ensure that unintentional cross-contact and incorrectly labelled products are minimised.

Good manufacturing practice

Good manufacturing practice (GMP) is a system to ensure that products meet food safety, quality and legal requirements. As a food manufacturer you should have GMP in place.

HACCP is the recommended approach to control the possibility of allergen contamination. It can be part of GMP and is a systematic programme to assure food safety.

A HACCP programme consists of the following steps:

  • Identify the hazards that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced.
  • Identify the critical control points where control is essential to prevent, eliminate or reduce a hazard.
  • Establish and implement effective monitoring procedures at critical control points.
  • Establish corrective actions when monitoring.
  • Establish procedures to verify that the program is working effectively.
  • Document your food safety work.

Critical points that food companies need to consider include employee training and supervision, product design and formulation, supply chain of raw materials, manufacturing premises, equipment and processes, cleaning, and packaging and labelling.

Food authorities in different countries have developed guidelines to aid the food industry in how to manage and label allergens.