Manufacturing News

Allergen Awareness

Eight foods -- milk, egg, wheat, peanut, soy, tree nuts, fish and shellfish -- cause 90 percent of all food allergy reactions, according to the Food Allergy Network. Up to five percent of children have food allergies, and even one half a peanut can cause a fatal reaction. Severely milk-allergic children can even have a reaction if milk is simply splashed on their skin. While the actual allergic population has not significantly increased and allergies generally dissipate by adulthood, improved testing capabilities have allowed better classification of previously unexplained illnesses.

Allergen-safe food production is a developing trend among processors. However, extensive amounts of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) training, process design and sanitation go into producing allergen-safe foods. "Isolated personnel flow, supplies, product storage and ingredient control are critical control points to preventing cross-contamination," notes Tracy Bridgeman, technical services manager at Austin Packaging Co. (APC, Austin, MN). "Positive-pressure HEPA-filtered air is another key preventing contamination."

APC recently completed a 7,500 sq.-ft. allergen-controlled processing and packaging room, dedicated to producing specialty products. It is one of only a handful of such contractible facilities. Allergen control capabilities at APC include milk and soy proteins, and peanut residues. APC's allergen room is currently processing and packaging proprietary USDA-inspected meal kits and other products, although almost any product requiring allergen-safe labeling could be produced.

Bridgeman notes that allergen ingredients such as peanut sauce are stored independently and under lock and key to further prevent possibilities of error. "And there are only two keys to the ingredient storage lockers in the plant, both held by management," she says.

Allergen control training included specialized GMPs, customized videos with real-life examples of allergen-affected children and exacting SOPs (standard operating procedures). While allergen-control processing does not necessarily differ from normal processing, GMPs and SOPs go beyond normalcy and focus on specific practices to prevent contamination. A stringent HACCP plan was also implemented for this process.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

IPPE 2015

The 2015 International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) was held in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, Jan. 27-29. More than 30,000 poultry, meat and feed industry representatives attended the event to interact with the 1,288 exhibitors on the show floor that covered more than 490,000 net square feet. At the show exhibitors demonstrated innovations in equipment, supplies and services utilized by firm in the production and processing of meat, poultry, eggs and feed products.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering March 2015 cover

2015 March

In this March 2015 issue of Food Engineering, we explore how a surprise FDA audit could be serious if you're not recording key data.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.