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The Control of Allergens: Your responsibility!

If you were to take a poll of 30 random people on the street, it is likely the percentage of them who have an allergy of some description would be fairly high.  We live in an age where, if we don’t have an allergy ourselves, we know several others who do.  Allergies and intolerances seem to be a modern day phenomenon and are on the rise. Whilst a lot of people suffer mildly, for some an allergic reaction can be absolutely fatal!

There are all sorts of allergies relating to different food groups and it is imperative that, as a business, you are aware of allergens, how to store them properly and how to avoid cross contamination.  Somebody with a severe allergy to nuts, for example, could go into anaphylactic shock just through ingesting something that has simply been through the same processer.  As a producer or supplier, this could mean that you would be at fault and, in the age in which we now live where litigation cases are at an all-time high, lengthy court proceedings could ensue, something you would wish to avoid at all costs.  In fact, just this week, two men have been in the news charged with the manslaughter of a teenage girl who died from a severe allergic reaction after consuming one of their takeaway meals which contained nuts.  They were charged with ‘failing to discharge general health and safety duty to a person other than an employee’.

Businesses need to be scrupulous in their handling of allergens and it is crucial that the relevant information about what products contain or could potentially contain is communicated clearly so that consumers are not left in any doubt. In fact, when a food allergy sufferer suffers an allergic reaction, it is commonly down to two things, namely, incorrect labelling of a product, or poor communication between staff and customers.

Storage and labelling of foods containing allergens

For those businesses in the catering line, food stuffs containing allergens should be kept in separate, waterproof containers and clearly labelled, preferably with a brightly coloured sticker or icon so that it is immediately apparent to your staff when they are sourcing ingredients for items they are producing.  It is advisable to store them away from other non-allergenic items and have a separate storage area so that you minimise any opportunity for cross contamination. Moreover, staff need to proactively look for and be made aware of hidden ingredients within a product. For example, if producing a shepherd’s pie, using  Worcestershire sauce, staff must communicate that it will contain fish, as anchovies are one of the main ingredients used in Worcestershire sauce.

For those businesses which are packaging and labelling products for sale, there are clear guidelines on alerting consumers to any potential allergens.  Those items which contain an allergen should be highlighted in bold in the ingredients list. For example, a mars bar would indicate that it contains milk chocolate.  This is required by law and is considered sufficient warning for the consumer.  There are 14 different allergen types about which you are required to notify consumers and it is vital that you are aware of them all.  You can find them listed on the Food Standards Agency website.

Cleaning of machinery/equipment/surfaces after using or packaging products containing allergens

Some food producers or packagers might have a dedicated allergen-free product line or area to avoid any cross contamination but this might not be possible for every company.  For most businesses, it will be a case of ensuring there are adequate cleaning processes in place.  Machinery and equipment should be taken apart where possible and all items thoroughly cleaned to remove all trace.  Every surface should also be cleaned as meticulously.  If this is not possible, the Food Standards Agency recommends evaluating the risk and using advisory labelling or notification to the consumer if necessary.

Remember, it isn’t just equipment and machinery that pose a risk.  Even clothing might be a hazard as allergens could be transferred this way.  You should ensure your staff wear correct clothing or protective covering where necessary.

And, of course, one of the most important and simplest processes is to make sure you and your staff wash your hands thoroughly after being in contact with any allergenic product to avoid cross contamination.

Ongoing training for staff

Your business needs to show that all your staff have received adequate instruction regarding allergens and there should be a clear audit trail of training records.  The more information your employees are given, the better equipped you will be to avoid any catastrophes.

We are able to offer training at your premises to assist you in ensuring you follow best practice and put in place procedures which will help you streamline this aspect of your business.  Please contact us if you would like to find out more or would like any help with training.

Alternatively, why not take our online Allergen Awareness Course. Sign up for a free trial today!

 

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Food Allergen Awareness Online Training

The Need For Food Allergen Training.

53.7% of Food businesses still can’t identify the allergens included in a new piece of EU law which your business must comply with!

Food allergies are an extremely significant topic within the western world, with up to 8% of children and 4% of adults are thought to have a food allergy of some description. Evidence suggests that the number of people with food allergies is on the increase, meaning food producers need to be increasingly aware of the risks associated with using allergenic ingredients and the potential effects it can have on their customers. In addition to this, the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 came into force at the end of 2014, which means that for all UK businesses will need to comply with these regulations, which changes how allergen information is provided and presented for all foods. Having allergen information available for consumers will extend to non-pre-packed foods within the context of catering. From 13 December 2014, information on any of the ‘14 allergens’ which are used as ingredients will need to be provided for foods sold without packaging or wrapped on site.

Who This Course Is For

This CPD accredited qualification is aimed at those responsible for the purchase, delivery, production and serving of food in the catering industry. It is also particularly suitable for those who own or manage a catering business. Learners achieving this qualification will be able to apply their knowledge relating to the control of food ingredients at all stages of food purchase and production. They will also gain an understanding of the process for ensuring that accurate ingredient information is available for consumers at the point of sale and the controls that need to be in place in order to significantly reduce the risk of allergenic contamination.

The topics and learning outcomes of this course are regarded by the Foods Standards Agency as being important to maintaining good practice in the production, preparation and service of safe food.


Course Information

This course covers general allergies, food allergies and food intolerances and explain the differences between them. It covers the 14 allergens controlled by legislation along with food additives and how they can trigger allergic reactions. It takes a detailed look at the symptoms of food allergies and takes in the wider picture discussing the current theories of why rates are increasing. It then finishes off by covering practical steps that can be taken to reduce the risk from allergens and also what steps can be taken both internally and externally to monitor the control measures.


  • Module
    Number
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • Module
    Name
  • Food Allergens: The Basics
  • Intolerances – Causes and Symptoms
  • Allergies – Causes and Symptoms
  • Allergen Facts
  • Food Allergens and the Law
  • Food Allergens – Practical Steps
  • Allergen Information for Consumers
  • Internal Monitoring and Review
  • External Monitoring and Review
  • Pass %
    Required
  • 70
  • 70
  • 70
  • 70
  • 70
  • 70
  • 70
  • 70
  • 70

allergen awareness training




Certification



On successful completion of the course you will be receive a quality assured certificate as a PDF document, via email. You can us this as a way to provide evidence for compliance and audit. All courses we offer are accredited by the CPD Certification Service.