‘It was great to be involved in this project – building a brand new allergen identification labelling system from the ground floor up. Whilst there were many aspects to consider, together we designed a system that met every challenge we faced.’
Our customer, a prominent food manufacturer supplying a major supermarket multiple, invited Piroto to advise on an allergen labelling system for a brand new facility. Before the production facility was fully operational, our customer took the opportunity to consult Piroto about ‘best practice’ in product segregation and identification of allergens and to explore how this might be incorporated into the set-up before the plant became fully operational.
The Customer’s Challenge
Our customer’s main aim was to develop an allergen identification system that was second to none; including tags and labels that would be easily recognised, both visually and operationally, by production operatives. The manufacturer’s Technical and Operations departments each had their own specific requirements which needed to be taken into account:
- the Technical department required a fool-proof identification system
- the Operations team needed a system that was easy to manage and implement, and that would fit in with the operational needs of the business
- the system would have to cover the whole process of allergen management; from storage, handling, manufacturing and identifying when the processing machines needed to be cleaned.
We discussed the brief and identified a number of key considerations that would need to be taken into account when specifying a solution. These were:
- the wide variety of raw materials coming into the facility
- the number of ingredients and products identified through production
- how the system would work with the reusable dollies and trays our client used through the manufacturing process
- the need to clearly identify when processing machinery had come in contact with allergens and therefore needed a deep clean before being used again
- the varying level of identification needed in different areas of the production process.
Initially our client requested a colour coding system with a coloured tag to represent each allergen; five in all. Whilst this seemed like a workable solution, we were able to share our experience with the client and present an alternative that would do a better job. We recommended combining the five colours onto one tag and label with check boxes for each allergen. This simplified the operatives’ task meaning that they would only be looking for one tag or label, plus, checks by the technical team would be easier too. Also, very importantly, stock management of a single allergen tag and label simplified things considerably.
What we delivered
Based on our recommendations a trial was arranged, focussing on the following labelling products;
- a self-adhesive, metal detectable label with the five allergen groups detailed by colour coding for ‘Goods In’, that was flexible enough to use on many different cases, packets and bags
- a metal detectable tag, also showing the five allergen groups, with the same colour coding that allowed the goods to flow easily between ‘Goods In’, ‘Production’, ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Despatch’
- the tags could also be utilised to identify the processing machinery that required deep cleaning.
The trial worked successfully and all departments across the operation adopted the new procedures; finding every aspect of the new allergen identification system really easy to manage.
The impact on the customer’s business
In the face of stricter controls on allergen identification our client has found the system we implemented easy to use and flexible. In particular:
- the candy striped tags and labels are easy to spot by operatives; thus saving time
- the tick box system gives flexibility and means that the same tag and label design can be used across the whole facility thus saving money
- stock management of the allergen labels and tags is easy; this saves time and reduces the risk of running out of stock
- the new system give our client’s customers peace of mind knowing that the allergen tracking system is robust which, in turn, strengthens their relationship.
In addition, the “tick box” method we have developed means that the procedure can accommodate an ever increasing list of allergens that need to be identified.