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peanuts, allergens
Allergen Alley

Allergen Advisory Labeling

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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peanuts, allergens

We’ve all seen the vague warnings on food labels, such as “May contain tree nuts” or “This product was made in facility that also processes dairy.” At the Food Safety Consortium in October, Steven Gendel, principal of Gendel Food Safety and former FDA Food Allergen Coordinator, offered guidance on when and how these advisory—also known as precautionary—labels should be used by food companies. In his presentation “Allergen Advisory Labeling,” Gendel made clear that these statements are not regulatory requirements and are not to be used for a company’s benefit (i.e, to shield the company from liability). They are for consumers and should be used only to protect consumers in situations where there is a potential risk of cross contamination that cannot be controlled through regulated cross contamination efforts and may cross the threshold of safe levels for allergic consumers.

Steve Gendel, USP
Steven Gendel

When to Use Allergen Advisory Labels

Advisory labels are to be used after a company has taken all necessary steps to eliminate allergen cross contamination and ensure the absence of allergens, and is unable to prevent the risk of cross contamination. “Companies should have a written justification for using an advisory label statement,” said Gendel.

How to Calibrate Risk

The risk to consumers with allergies is based on a combination of how much of the allergen is present and how much of the product is likely to be consumed. This means that risk should be based on how much of the product the consumer is likely to consume, not the labeled serving size. Take, for example, a small bag of chips that includes nutritional information for two servings per bag. If the consumer is more likely to eat the entire bag in one sitting, the allergen dose should be based on the exposure from one full bag of chips. “The dose can justify use of an allergen advisory label,” said Gendel. (For guidance on dose, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has established allergen threshold levels.)

It is also important to note that precautionary or advisory labels are for potential cross contamination risks only. “There is no minimum dose for an ingredient,” said Gendel. “If an allergen is an actual ingredient in the product, it must be on the ingredient label.”



World Food Safety Day 2023

Celebrating World Food Safety Day

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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World Food Safety Day 2023

Wednesday, June 7 is World Food Safety Day. The annual event was established in 2018 by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness and inspire action to help prevent, detect, and manage foodborne risks.

This year’s theme is “Food Standards Save Lives,” which highlights the role of established food safety practices and standards to ensure food safety and quality.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on countries, companies, and educational institutions to further adoption of safe food practices. Following are this year’s calls to action:

Policy makers

Make safe food an easy choice by shaping public support for programs, such as food aid, school feeding and other publicly owned food outlets.

Focus on establishing a robust national food safety system and ensure it complies with food safety standards.

Encourage and engage in multisectoral collaboration at the local, national, regional, and global levels.

Food businesses

Engage employees, suppliers and other stakeholders to grow and develop a food safety culture.

Comply with national and international food standards.

Educational institutions and workplaces

Promote safe food handling.

Engage with families and involve them in food safety activities.

Support food safety education.