By Allergen Bureau

The Allergen Bureau Launches New Assessing Agricultural Cross Contact Guide for Industry

Hot off the Allergen Bureau press is the launch of the new Assessing Agricultural Cross Contact 2022 guide – created by industry, for industry. Years in the making, we are thrilled to launch this brand-new industry guide at the 2022 AIFST Conference on August 23, developed by a volunteer group of proactive Allergen Bureau members, to assist food businesses to manage cross contact.

The Allergen Bureau’s Agricultural Co-Mingling Working Group has been committed to producing guidance to assist industry to identify and manage agricultural cross contact risk. The new guidance document will combine all information pertaining to agricultural cross contact in one place. In addition to the guidance released in 2021, the Sampling and Testing sub-working group have developed a questionnaire that industry can use to determine the level of risk that may be associated with raw materials, how this risk outcome can guide in developing sampling plans, and assist in determining the presence and prevalence of allergen cross contact says Jasmine Lacis-Lee Allergen Bureau’s President. 

“The leading value proposition of the Allergen Bureau is tackling industry challenges that are bigger than one company alone, and to be known as an organisation that can help solve problems that companies can’t solve themselves. The ability to work in a pre-competitive space is not only vital to innovation for our industry, but a space where we can view a problem wholistically, communicate effectively and align on the best solution. The development of this new guide is a perfect example of this approach in practice. Over a total period of almost four years, from raising the original issue at the 2018 AGM and including two solid years of work behind the scenes on latest work, the launch of this guide is not only aligned to our goal of ‘by industry, for industry’ but a wonderful example of industry collaboration that we are proud of.” says Lisa Clark, Manager Allergen Bureau.  

Identifying the allergens present in foods and ingredients can be complex, requiring consultation with suppliers and obtaining detailed raw material specifications. By ensuring that all allergens, including unexpected ones, are identified, and included in the product risk assessment, the food industry can meet regulatory requirements, mitigate the risk of allergen recalls and withdrawals, and provide important information to consumers with food allergy.

The guide together with the innovative raw material risk matrix questionnaire not only assists businesses to identify risks, but helps them answer the challenging frequently asked question of “now what? The risk rating can be used to inform sampling approaches for verification activities, such as analytical analysis, to understand the presence and prevalence of cross contact.  Use of this new resource can also help inform the VITAL® (Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling Program) risk assessment process.

We can only do what we do because of our members financial support, and this is a perfect example of how we use these resources to develop tools for the benefit of the industry. The Allergen Bureau was fortunate to have the expertise and dedication of the working group behind this new guide including our members Una Mullany (The Coca Cola Company), Rhonda Spyrou (The Kraft Heinz Company), Vivienne Balm (The Kraft Heinz Company), Dean Clarke (National Measurement Institute), Kieran Hopkins (SGS), Karl Kusko (ALS Global) and Joanne Price (HJ Langdon). We sincerely thank this team for volunteering their time outside of work hours as we navigated many different time zones” says Jasmine Lacis-Lee Allergen Bureau’s President. 

Relevant to all areas of the food industry the new guide will be a useful tool for growers, primary producers, food ingredient manufacturers, importers, suppliers, food business operators (FBO’s), and importers of packaged foods.  We would like to extend a special thanks also to the FBO’s including processors, manufacturers, traders, and analysts who kindly shared their feedback in the development of the resource. FBOs who wish to suggest the addition of a food are invited to contact the Allergen Bureau. 

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