What are the key food allergens?
The key food allergens are: peanuts; tree nuts; soy; milk, egg; cereals; seafood; fish; and sesame.
These products and their derivatives are used widely in the manufacture of food. Small, medium and large businesses in the food industry in Australia and New Zealand need to be able to trace ingredients through their supply chains to identify any containing food allergens or at risk of cross-contamination.
What can the allergen Bureau do for my business?
In December 2002 the labelling of all products containing any of the key food allergens or derivatives of them, was made mandatory by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
One of the main objectives of the Allergen Bureau is to reduce food allergen related management costs to the food industry by increasing the industry’s capacity to understand and manage the associated risks.
The Allergen Bureau provides businesses of all sizes in the food industry with information on food allergens and best practice for managing them in the production and retailing of food products in Australia and New Zealand.
What the Membership benefits?
Small, medium and large food suppliers, food manufacturers and food retailers in Australian and New Zealand need to give serious consideration to becoming Members of the Allergen Bureau.
Being a Member of the Allergen Bureau can not only save you time and money by helping you address food allergen issues in a professional way, it can also help you demonstrate your commitment and proactive approach to your staff, suppliers, customers and regulatory authorities.
As a Member of the Allergen Bureau your business will enjoy the benefits of:
- Your logo with a web link on the Allergen Bureau website*
- Link on your website to the Allergen Bureau website*
- Easy access to latest food allergen information
- Information from leading food allergen experts
- Interaction with food businesses of all sizes
- Local Australia and New Zealand focus
- e-newsletter to up to 5 email addresses
- AFGC Food Allergen Forum Workshops
- Input into Food Allergen Forum Projects
*subject to approval by the Allergen Bureau
For more information on becoming a Member of the Allergen Bureau please call freephone Australia: 1800 263 829 or New Zealand toll free: 0800 263 829 or email email@example.com
How do we know if our products need labelling for food allergens?
If your products contain any of the 9 key allergens: peanuts; tree nuts; soy; milk; egg; cereals; seafood; fish; and sesame or derivatives of them, it is mandatory under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code for your product labels to contain this information as part of the ingredient list.
Best Practice is that food allergen information in ingredient labels should be listed in common language e.g. ‘milk’ rather than ‘sodium caseinate’.
If you are concerned about the presence of food allergens in your products that you are not deliberately adding, you may need to test the product or conduct a thorough HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) analysis of your supply chain to identify where the food allergens may be entering it.
Food allergens may for example be present due to shared equipment or use of ingredients where the supplier has not accurately recorded all components.
For more advice, please contact the Allergen Bureau Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I get my products tested?
There are a number of commercial testing laboratories in Australia and New Zealand which offer food allergen testing. These laboratories usually carry out an Enzyme-Llinked Immuno-Sorbent Assay (ELISA) on the samples. However some laboratories also perform DNA based tests where a more definitive answer is required on a difficult sample matrix.
For companies with in-house laboratory capabilities ELISA kits can be purchased and the tests carried out in-house. While there are several disadvantages to in-house testing the main benefit is the ability to deliver a rapid turn around time.
Contacts for some testing laboratories and kit suppliers in Australia and New Zealand are listed on the Allergen Bureau website in the testing and accreditation section on our industry links page.
How do we check our cleaning procedure stops cross contamination?
If the amount of food allergen present as a contaminant is potentially greater than 1 ppm an ELISA test may be useful. Depending on the production facility and the type of equipment used, testing can be done on environmental swabs or the first product produced after the cleaning has been carried out.
It is recommended that swabbing is carried out on the hang-up areas of the production facility where routine cleaning may not have been completely effective. Where the initial product contains the food allergen in trace amounts i.e. below 1ppm there will be little point in validating the cleaning procedure by testing for the food allergen.
Visual assessment of cleaning will need to be carried out to demonstrate that all reasonable care has been taken to prevent cross-contamination with food allergen containing material.
What is the safe limit for food allergens in products?
The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code of FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) has a mandatory requirement for labelling of any presence of the key allergens and their derivatives in products and their derivatives.
There is currently no threshold in the legislation. However while most of the ELISA kits have a limit of detection around 1 ppm, if you are knowingly adding an allergen or a derivative of an allergenic product, you are required to label its presence, regardless of whether it can be detected or not.