The Allergen Bureau launches new guide for assessing agricultural cross-contact
The Allergen Bureau has just published a brand-new industry guide, Assessing Agricultural Cross Contact 2022, developed by a volunteer group of Allergen Bureau members to offer guidance to food businesses on identifying and assessing agricultural commodities that may contain allergens due to cross-contact events.
The Allergen Bureau’s Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL®) Program defines cross-contact as a residue or other trace amount of a food allergen that is unintentionally incorporated into another food.
In this guide, ‘allergens’ are the foods that require mandatory declaration as described in the Australia New Zealand Food Code, however, the information is applicable across all regions.
The document is intended to aid in assessing the level of allergen cross-contact risk that may be associated with agricultural commodities, through the application of the Raw Material Risk Matrix Questionnaire to determine a risk rating. 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.
This new guide will be relevant to all areas of the food industry, including but not limited to: growers, primary producers, food ingredient manufacturers, importers, suppliers, food business operators (FBO’s), and importers of packaged foods.
Identifying the allergens - including unexpected ones - present in foods and ingredients, and including them in the product risk assessment, is essential for food industries to meet regulatory requirements, mitigate the risk of allergen recalls and withdrawals, and provide important information to consumers with food allergies.
In addition to the guidance, a Raw Material Risk Matrix Questionnaire has been designed. This questionnaire can be used by food industries 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. 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. The use of this new resource can also help inform the VITAL® (Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling Program) risk assessment process.