Allergens

Allergens

Various foods, ingredients and/or their components can cause life threatening reactions in individuals with food sensitivities. These food allergens, sulphites and gluten are considered high risk chemical hazards that facilities must consider during their hazard analysis and when establishing preventive control measures.

Undeclared allergens, gluten and added sulphites are a leading cause of food recalls in Canada. The presence of allergens, gluten and added sulphites cannot be eliminated or reduced by thermal treatment or any post-processing steps. Preventive control measures are essential during the preparation steps to prevent them from contaminating food in which they are not an intentional ingredient. Correctly declaring ingredients on the food label is necessary in order to notify consumers that may be sensitive to a food allergen, gluten or added sulphites, so they can avoid that product.

In Canada, the common food allergies and related disorders are:

  1. Peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts)
  2. Sesame
  3. Milk & dairy
  4. Eggs
  5. Seafood: fish, crustaceans and molluscs
  6. Soy
  7. Wheat (gluten) and triticale
  8. Mustard
  9. Sulphites
When uncontrolled, allergens can easily contaminate ingredients, Work-In-Process and finished products. Allergens such as dry milk, sesame and gluten can travel easily through the air as well as on high-touch surfaces.

The most common ways for undeclared allergens to enter food products are (although the following examples are not intended to be an exhaustive list):

 

  • Ingredients are transported in incompatible loads (allergens with non-allergens in close proximity)
  • Cross-contamination of an ingredient with an allergen before or after it is received at the facility
  • Accidentally adding allergens to products that do not usually contain them (mis-formulation)
  • Mislabelling of ingredients and finished products (label omits subcomponent that is an allergen)
  • Improper sanitation during product changeovers
  • Improper storage practices (allergens are stored above non-allergens)
  • Cross-contamination from a different production line

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When uncontrolled, allergens can easily contaminate ingredients, Work-In-Process and finished products. Allergens such as dry milk, sesame and gluten can travel easily through the air as well as on high-touch surfaces.

The most common ways for undeclared allergens to enter food products are (although the following examples are not intended to be an exhaustive list):

 

  • Ingredients are transported in incompatible loads (allergens with non-allergens in close proximity)
  • Cross-contamination of an ingredient with an allergen before or after it is received at the facility
  • Accidentally adding allergens to products that do not usually contain them (mis-formulation)
  • Mislabelling of ingredients and finished products (label omits subcomponent that is an allergen)
  • Improper sanitation during product changeovers
  • Improper storage practices (allergens are stored above non-allergens)
  • Cross-contamination from a different production line

Validation Considerations for Control of Allergens

Cross-contamination is one of the most likely sources of allergen contamination. This contamination can come from improper employee hygiene after leaving the lunchroom. This improper hygiene includes sub-par handwashing procedures, dirty sleeves, soiled coats and other Personal Protective Equipment.

Cross-contamination can also occur when receiving ingredient shipments in bulk, or during storage which is why it is important to have the proper documentation in place for traceability. In order to minimize this risk, a tight allergen program and safety validation must be put in place.

Our team of highly trained personnel have the knowledge and skills in order to implement an effective allergen program in your facility. Call or email us today for a free consultation on how we can make your facility safe.

Daniel Dorigiola

Co-Owner / QA Manager – Venetian Meat and Salami Co. Ltd., Hamilton, Ontario

“We have used the services from Quantum Food Solutions for a number of years to help us manage our written food safety program and validate our food safety controls (e.g., cooking, cooling, fermented/dry-cured products). We are very pleased with their practical approach to resolving issues and finding opportunities for process improvement. We certainly appreciate the high level of service they continue to provide our company and highly recommend their services”.

Pawel Zwerello

HACCP Coordinator, Sikorski Sausages, London, Ontario

“Renzo is very knowledgeable in Food Sciences, and we hired him as a process authority to help us approve a custom process, which received ‘no objection’ from CFIA. Renzo works in an efficient, professional and timely manner. We look forward to working with Renzo in the future, and have no reservations on recommending him to others looking to improve their processes and take their Food Safety to the next level. Thanks Quantum!”

Marius Kamerbeek

Plant Manager, Erie Meats, Listowel, Ontario

“We manufacture cooked meat and poultry products at our federal facility. We hired Quantum to evaluate our cooking processes including our smokehouses and spiral oven. We appreciate their high quality of service that has enabled us to comply with CFIA and FSIS requirements. We certainly recommend their services.”

Pete Holowachuk

Quality Manager, Winkler Meats Ltd., Winkler, Manitoba.

“We are a CFIA inspected plant certificated to the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. Renzo came to us highly recommended and we have contracted him on multiple occasions to validate our cooking and chilling processes. He uses a practical approach and specialized tools that allow him to provide a fairly comprehensive service. We look forward to working with him again and definitely recommend him to anyone looking for a robust, yet affordable food safety service.”

Stefan Cartmale

General Manager, Bright Cheese Ltd., Bright, Ontario.

“Thank you Quantum for all of the work to help us attain BRC certification. It has been one of the most rewarding achievements of my lifetime and I am so proud that we were able to achieve the BRC AA rating! By doing so, it has opened many new doors for us and also enable us to expand and continue to grow our business. We definitely recommend Quantum’s food safety services.”

Ramon Eberle

Plant Manager, Stonetown Artisan Cheese Ltd., St. Marys, Ontario.

This is to acknowledge that Renzo Gomez from Quantum Food Solutions facilitated the
installation of a solid HACCP plan, which allowed us to reach our goal of becoming federally licensed with CFIA. Thanks to our upgraded food safety standards, we were able to get in to business with Farm Boy and sell our product in new markets outside of Ontario. His service is affordably priced, very streamlined and his communication is honest and straight forward. It was a pleasure to work with Renzo Gomez and we are looking forward to work with him again in the future”

Julia Banton

Vice President of Operations, Kitchen Partners Limited, Edmonton, Alberta.

“Renzo has a wealth of knowledge, whilst maintaining a logical and common sense outlook to the tasks ahead. His approach is unique to that of other consultants I have worked with, in that he is pragmatic and makes light work of global codes/standards. We definitely look forward to continuing to work together and highly recommend Quantum to anyone looking to upgrade their food safety and quality systems.”

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