In an effort to reduce adverse reactions to food allergens, along with potential recalls, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently released new guidelines to assist meat, poultry, and processed egg product producers in properly managing ingredients that could trigger such problems.
The new FSIS guidelines, entitled, “FSIS Compliance Guidelines Allergens and Ingredients of Public Health Concern: Identification, Prevention and Control, and Declaration through Labeling,” aim to keep consumers safe and also provide useful tools to help food companies avoid preventable, costly recalls.
In addition, Neogen has also recently developed two food allergen handbooks to assist producers with the proper handling of food allergens in a production environment. Neogen’s Food Allergen Handbook explains what food allergens are, covers proper food allergen testing methods and why they are important, along with how to implement them.
Neogen’s Best Practices for Food Allergen Validation and Verification Handbook, delves deeper and discusses how to validate and verify that your allergen testing method is working correctly, along with proper cleaning and sanitation information as well as other resources.
These types of literature are of extreme importance as the number of Americans with food allergies continues to grow. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 2% of adults and 4% to 8% of children in the U.S. have food allergies. While some reactions may not be as severe as others, food allergens are capable of causing serious symptoms and can result in anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction.
The most common food allergies that we face today are covered in both the FSIS guidelines as well as Neogen’s handbooks and are known as the “big eight,” which account for approximately 90% of all food allergy reactions in the U.S. The “big eight” includes wheat, crustacean shellfish, eggs, fish, peanuts, milk, tree nuts and soybeans.
In addition to the increase of those with food allergies, product recalls for undeclared allergens have also been on the rise. In fact, in 2008, 13% of all food recalls were related to undeclared allergens, which increased to 35% in 2012. Furthermore, allergen label-related inspection checks have also increased in number for certain establishments in order to ensure that products are properly labeled.
By following the new FSIS guidelines as well as implementing Neogen’s handbooks, food producers can be better prepared and fully understand what is required when it comes to food allergens, testing methods, product labeling and more.
For more information of the FSIS guidelines, click here.
To request your copy of Neogen’s handbooks, click here.