including eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat (five of the major eight allergens),
allergen management is key. While labeling and signage, mentioned above, are nec-
essary elements of an allergen food safety program, bakeries might also:
• Segregate ingredients by storing allergens below and separate from other
• Produce products working from those containing the least amount of allergens to
the most allergens, with thorough cleaning and sanitization steps in between
• Use separate equipment such as pans, knives, and cutting boards that are color
coded to indicate which allergen they are to be used with
• Ensure that employees know how to effectively use, clean, and store equipment
In any event, it is important to train employees to know the eight major allergens,
symptoms of an allergic reaction, and what to do in response to a customer having
an allergic reaction. It is important that employees understand that there is always a
risk of cross-contact within a bakery setting and that they need to remain vigilant to
minimize these risks.
Whether it is proper equipment use, health and hygiene practices, allergen control, proper cleaning, reduction of cross-contamination, proper labeling, or any other
food safety basic, it is essential that employees understand and follow good food
safety practices at all times.
Bakery food safety programs minimize the risk of bacterial, physical, and chemical contaminants in the final bakery products. Working with suppliers that have good
food safety programs and perform risk assessments on the products being sold is a
foundational element of any bakery food safety program. Designing and conducting
shelf-life and challenge studies with a reputable laboratory determine appropriate
shelf-life, storage, and production practices for TCS products. Proper labeling and
signage of ingredients, nutritional, and allergen information help guide customers in
choosing the best products for their health and well-being. Employees that understand the basics of food safety principles, and practice them in their daily behaviors,
help ensure the safety of the baked goods produced. When combined, these program
elements will provide safe, high-quality products for your bakery customers. n
Patricia Marden, B.Sc., is a food safety scientist at Target, specializing in vendor management.
Jennifer Forester, B.Sc., M.Ed., is a nutrition, labeling, and regulatory compliance scientist at Target.
Becky Swayne, B.Sc., is a recall program lead at Target.
Sadie Pulk, M.A., M.B.A., REHS, is a senior business partner in the food safety division of Target.
Ann Marie McNamara, Ph.D., is the vice president of Target’s foods and essentials safety and quality assurance division.
All authors of this article are members of Target’s foods and essentials safety and quality
assurance division. This division is responsible for the food safety and regulatory compliance
programs of over 1,800 stores, distribution centers, vendors, labeling, data management, and
regulatory compliance activities.
It is important to partner with a
chemical supplier that can help develop
an adequate chemical sanitation program for the facility. These partners are
instrumental in recommendations for
cleaning and sanitation chemicals that
are effective in the bakery setting. Furthermore, their expertise can be utilized
to train staff on monitoring the limits
of these chemicals and the steps to take
when these chemicals fall outside the established limits. Based on the chemicals
identified for use in your facility, your
chemical vendor can help you establish
what the optimal water temperature
is to ensure efficacy of detergents and
Food Safety Basics for
All bakery employees should be
taught the basics of food safety and
their role in producing safe food. Especially, they should be taught why their
behaviors are needed to keep food safe,
in addition to being taught how and
when to perform their required tasks.
Teaching employees why a behavior is
important ensures that they continue to
make good food safety decisions when
unsupervised. Supervisors should be
diligent in rewarding employees practicing good food safety behaviors and
coaching employees whose behaviors
do not meet expectations.
Practicing proper employee health
and hygiene requirements is key to
food safety success. Employees cannot
work while ill and need to regularly
wash their hands thoroughly. Wearing
hair restraints and not wearing jewelry
help keep physical contaminants out
of products. Wearing gloves to prevent
bare-hand contact and wearing clean
uniforms help prevent cross-contamination of bacteria or allergens.
With common bakery ingredients
“All bakery employees should be taught the basics of food safety and their
role in producing safe food. Especially, they should be taught why their
behaviors are needed to keep food safe...”