germane to manufacturing. These documents should also highlight any allergens that are used in the products. Somecompanies even place colored stickerson the paperwork that highlight the allergen or allergens being handled.
Sanitary design: Sanitary design ofequipment and facilities, including giving proper consideration to traffic patterns and ventilation, is a key elementnot only for allergen control, but to prevent contamination of any kind. Plantdesign should include dedicated areasfor staging and mixing allergens and theuse of dedicated lines for processing allergens. One of the largest concerns infood-processing facilities is potentialcontamination though dusting. Areaswhere dry ingredients such as wheatflour, soy protein or cheese powders aredumped and mixed must be designedwith proper ventilation to ensure thatthese allergens do not spread throughthe plant. Often, plants install blowersthat blow dust into the plant. Dry ingre-dient-handling plants must pay attention to ensuring that connectionsbetween lines and pipes are properly gasketed to minimize leakage. Sanitary design is another topic to which one coulddevote an entire piece.
Staging and ingredient usage: Whengearing up for a production run, it is important to consider how ingredients areorganized and staged in order to minimize potential allergen cross-contact.Persons working in this area must makesure that ingredients containing allergens are properly labeled. This will serveas a check on receiving and warehouseoperations and will ensure that production personnel understand that they areworking with allergens. One key activityis to ensure that partial bags of ingredients have been labeled as to the datethey were opened and properly sealed sothat there are no leaks or spills. As partof this program, tops of drums and pailsshould be cleaned for use in blendingoperations.
Dedicated utensils: Another meansfor minimizing cross-contaminationwith allergens is through the use of dedi
Part 1 of this article discussed the fol- lowing elements of allergen control: re- search and development, vendorapproval and selection (purchasing),shipping and receiving, warehousingand human resources. In this article wewill cover production, labeling and sanitation.
Production and Production Scheduling
Allergen control in production operations is a combination of productionscheduling, programs designed to minimize cross-contamination, good sanitary design of equipment and facilities, proper control and labeling of raw materials andingredients, good sanitation practices and the application of technologies, especially vision systems, to “catch” containers or packages that are going where theyshould not be going. As was emphasized previously, there must be documentedprocedures that include proper monitoring and corrective actions.
Production scheduling: Food processors who are processing and handling allergens need to establish rigid protocols for production scheduling to minimize thepotential for allergen cross-contamination. Processors packaging organic productswill run those items first thing in the morning on clean lines, so the organic itemsare not “contaminated” by conventional products. Allergens should be scheduledat the end of the work day for the same reasons. If there are products that haveslightly different formulations, say one contains egg noodles (wheat and egg) andthe other contains a whole-wheat pasta, the item containing the two allergensshould be scheduled later in the day. Depending upon the products being run, different cleaning procedures should be developed for use between products. Theseprotocols will be addressed in the sanitation section below.
Another means to minimize allergen contamination is to establish dedicatedlines for manufacturing products containing allergens. Ideally, such a line would beseparated physically from lines used to manufacture products without allergens.
In many plants, those responsible for production scheduling will not only develop the schedules, but provide production with paperwork that includes formulations, batching and coding information and any other pertinent informationBuilding a World-classAllergen ControlProgram, Part 2
By Richard F. Stier