Poor allergen identification: risks and solutions

Pass your next audit with ease

Product recalls and allergen mislabelling incidents are never far from the news; meaning that consumers are fully aware of the, potentially tragic, effects that common ingredients like nuts and seeds can have. Browse the Food Standards Agency website and you’ll find that product recalls caused by undeclared or poorly labelled allergens are an almost daily event.

Poor allergen Id risks

The ultimate risk of poor allergen identification is undeniable, but there are other risks to your business too:

Failing supplier audits

In most cases, food manufacturers supplying to the big supermarkets will be required to follow British Retail Consortium (BRC) guidelines for allergen management. To ensure compliance, food manufacturers’ allergen management processes will be audited on a regular basis. Failing such an audit can have extreme consequences; potentially even closing the business down.

Product recalls

Poor allergen labelling, either through missing allergens on product labels or failing to show them in bold, is the most common reason for product recalls. Product recalls are costly and difficult to manage, taking attention away from the normal day to day running of the business.

Brand damaging PR

Not only are product recalls expensive and time-consuming, but they are also potentially damaging to your product and company brand. Some food manufacturers, retailers and restaurants may never recover from a high profile allergen labelling incident.

Allergen labelling solutions

It doesn’t have to be difficult to put an allergen labelling system in place.

Colour-coded labels & tags

One way to manage allergens is to segregate production lines where different allergens are being used, this avoids cross-contamination. For example, everything in one line may be colour coded red; from allergen identification tags and labels to containers, and even operatives clothing, everything will be red. A second line may use a yellow colour code so that the chance of cross-contamination is greatly reduced.

Tick box allergen tags

In food manufacturing operations where various allergens are mixed together at various stages of the process, a tick box allergen tag system is a good solution. Simply, as the allergen ingredients are added to the mix, they are ticked off on the reverse of the allergen tag thus keeping track of all the allergens in the end product.

The process is simple to implement and leaves less room for human error through misspelt or misread allergen information.

Printed allergen labels

Some smaller food manufacturers still hand-write their allergen tags, which leaves room for error. Installing portable printers can be a low-cost solution to tightening up your allergen recording system. By installing a thermal printer with an LED screen to select the various allergens and print off the appropriate allergen label you can reduce the possibility of human error and speed up your processes too.

We operate a BRC approved site meaning that all our labels and tags are manufactured according to the guidelines. We have experience in helping our customers implement the most appropriate and robust allergen labelling systems. We manufacture customised allergen labels and tags that work with your own bespoke systems. Call us if you’d like help to improve your allergen labelling.

Need help?