Guest Column | October 14, 2015

Preventing Allergen Recalls Through Effective Label Management

Preventing Allergen Recalls Through Effective Label Management

By Warren Stone, senior director of science policy, compliance, and inspection, Grocery Manufacturers Association

Managing allergens during food processing is of vast importance in today’s food industry. Some people can develop serious or life-threatening reactions when exposed to allergenic proteins in foods and data from the CDC shows an increase in hospital visits related to food allergic reaction.

With no remedy for food allergies, the only successful method to manage one’s allergy is to avoid food containing causative allergens. The food industry takes multiple measures to manage food products containing allergens. Effective allergen management includes strong safeguards to ensure each container has an accurate label that meets applicable laws and regulations while properly declaring all recognized allergens present in the product.

Apparently, this objective represents a substantial challenge. Information from the FDA’s Reportable Food Registry (RFR) reveals that undeclared allergen reports have steadily increased since the RFR’s inception in 2009 rising to approximately 44% of all RFR reports in 2014. The problem is not limited to the U.S.; data from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) show recalls due to undeclared allergens account for 34 percent of all recalls for the years 2011 through 2014. The FSANZ website declares, “… more recently undeclared allergen/labeling issues are becoming the more frequently occurring hazard.

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