A Guide to Enhanced Allergen Control for Food Manufacturers
Undeclared allergens have long been the number one cause of food recalls in the US. Here in Canada, where 1-in-2 households are affected by food allergies, undeclared allergens were responsible for a staggering 97% of all allergen-related recalls so far this year. Milk, egg, and tree nuts accounted for more than 50% of these allergen recalls, emphasizing the importance of allergen control.
Given the statistics, it is easy to see why legislation on allergen labelling and controls have become increasingly stringent in the last year. The US, for example, signed the FASTER (Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research) Act, which expands allergen reporting to include sesame. The UK also introduced new allergen labelling requirements for prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) food in October 2021.
Consumers are concerned, too. In the US, 85 million shoppers avoid major food allergens, and 65% of them do not even have a food allergy. Awareness of allergens and their potentially life-threatening consequences are heightened. Advocacy groups and programs like the Teal Pumpkin Project, which promotes safer trick-or-treating during Halloween, have undoubtedly played a major role in this.
As a result, food manufacturers are expected to make allergen control a priority with strong preventative measures and food safety compliance, especially in production environments where cross-contamination is a major concern. More and more food manufacturers are resorting to allergen testing to ensure product safety and labelling accuracy, but even though new testing technology like ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and the FDA’s xMAP, testing can only catch problems after contamination has already occurred.
Likewise, food companies that choose to label all their products with allergen warnings rather than manage allergens in their facilities are missing out on a growing segment of consumers for no good reason. A preventative solution focused on minimizing the margin of error as much as possible is now possible – and necessary. With Icicle’s automated allergen control features, creating an allergen-free production environment is straightforward and effective, helping food companies reach more customers, safely.
Automation is the Key to Confident Allergen Management
For many food manufacturers, improper segregation of ingredients and products is the most common cause of allergen contamination. Cross-contamination can also happen due to the mishandling of shared equipment and poor employee sanitation. If you’re still working with pen and paper, creating an efficient system to manage all these processes is a distant reality.
But with Icicle’s automated system, you can quickly identify and segregate allergen-related ingredients and formalize workflows to avoid mishandling and poor sanitation. Overall, it can make automated allergen tracking, reporting, and traceability a breeze, saving time, improving efficiency, and minimizing errors.
Take, for instance, FreeYumm, an allergen-free kids’ snack manufacturer, for whom allergen control was a number one priority. Their paper-based systems were inefficient and didn’t allow them to fully take charge of their food safety efforts; they knew they needed something better.
So, they implemented Icicle. Its automated features for allergen management provided a simple and reliable solution to track and manage suppliers and ingredients, integrate traceability, and prepare for inspections confidently.
It came together as the best option for us in terms of the functionality of the system, the usability of the software, and the customer support. We knew the relationship would be well-managed, so it was a pretty easy decision and we didn’t bother looking any further.Terry Goulah, Vice President of Operations and co-Founder of FreeYumm
Icicle Brings Automation Technology to Allergen Control
When each workflow operates in isolation and processes are tracked with manual records, setting up preventative measures and identifying allergen contamination issues becomes a nightmare.
So, Icicle has adopted an integrated system with automation technology to bring greater efficiency and control to your allergen management efforts. Here’s how Icicle’s advanced allergen control features can ease food allergy worries for you and your customers.
- Effortless ingredient tracking. Each time you receive ingredients from suppliers, Icicle can display ingredient records and flag allergens with colour-coded warnings. It allows you to effectively separate allergen-related ingredients and avoid cross-contamination.
- Formulation tracking for allergens. With automated visual warnings, Icicle makes identifying allergens in product formulations effortless. This will help eliminate costly errors that often arise with manual cross-checking.
- Managing sanitation workflows. Icicle allows you to define and formalize sanitation workflows that are crucial to avoid cross-contamination. You can also track and validate compliance using checklist inspections and confirm before running the next product batch.
- Integrating allergen training for employees. Training employees on allergen prevention procedures is essential to prevent contamination due to human error. With Icicle, you can easily manage all documentation and training programs on a single platform and track which employees have completed training, record program success, and schedule further training where necessary.
- Advanced traceability. Traceability is often a regulatory requirement, which Icicle simplifies with its automated system. And in the rare event you face an allergen recall, it’ll allow you to minimize damage with precision tracing.
By integrating and automating processes with real-time data tracking, Icicle significantly eases the workload for allergen controls. This is especially notable for businesses that deal with a large number of product varieties and ingredients, like DaVinci Gelato.
On a day-to-day basis, Icicle saves probably at least one hour per person. Icicle is churning away and running smoothly. There’s no stress, no giant pile of paperwork that needs maintenance. It’s paying for itself, especially by helping us expand into other jurisdictions easily.Felix Irnich, COO of DaVinci Gelato
Go Allergen-Free with Confidence
As allergen-related regulations become increasingly stringent and consumer pressure builds up, food manufacturers, both large and small, are in urgent need of an effective solution for allergen management.
Icicle’s automated features provide a reliable and unified system that avoids inefficiencies and the costly consequences of manual food safety systems. It can seamlessly integrates allergen controls into your food safety program so you can adopt a holistic approach to safety and quality.
And the result? Improvements in efficiency that ensure customer health and safety, mitigate any recalls due to allergens, simplify regulatory compliance, and streamline operations for business growth.