Proper allergen testing is essential when dealing with food production. Keep in mind that allergens are not like other harmful elements in food products like bacteria and other disease-causing elements. These cannot be eliminated by exposure to high-heat or similar strategies. The only effective approach to protecting consumers is testing for potentially harmful compounds to certain people and providing the right information through labelling. If you are unfamiliar with allergen testing, consider using these basic guidelines to achieve good results in your food production operation.
You should know the potential allergens in your business operation for effective testing. In simple terms, it is important to understand all of the foods and ingredients in your production line that have been identified as causing hypersensitivity or severe reactions like anaphylactic shock. For instance, a lot of people are allergic to animal proteins like eggs, milk, fish and crustaceans. Also, there is sensitivity associated with gluten which comes from cereals like oats, barley and wheat. In addition, there are people who suffer from serious reactions to nuts, including peanuts and tree nuts. You should evaluate all the ingredients used in your production operations and identify the allergens in these foods. This will allow you to conduct a targeted test on your premises.
Choose the Technique
The right testing method is crucial for the identification of food allergens. Therefore, you should consult a professional in nutritional profiling or a similar field to help you select the best approach. It is important to note that the different analytical methods which are available for allergen testing will have differing levels of accuracy and costs. For instance, it is possible to use polymerase chain reaction equipment to identify the presence of the DNA of an allergenic ingredient. The method is highly accurate, but it is time-consuming and expensive. Under normal circumstances, you should opt for a quick, effective and affordable testing method. For example, there are enzyme-linked assays which are available for specific allergens. These kits are practical for long-term and large-scale use.
Know the Critical Points
Finally, you should identify the critical points which must be tested. The critical points are areas in the production lines at which allergens might be introduced to food products. These must be tested to enhance allergen control measures or provide information for labelling. The most obvious point of allergen introduction is related to the incoming ingredients. Therefore, you must address supply chain factors. Moreover, you should plan on testing the equipment, cleaning supplies, packaging units and the handling personnel.