The combined snack and bakery industries continually work toward improving operational best practices related to preventative food-safety concerns. However, this fundamental aspect of manufacturing has commanded the spotlight over the past few years as the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) come into effect. Meanwhile, we have seen the continued rise of the free-from foods movement, including gluten-free product development—and a simultaneous proliferation of allergen-related product recalls.
“The two biggest food safety issues that snack and bakery facilities face today include managing food allergen cross-contact risks at the manufacturing site and dealing with risk from supply-chain issues,” says Maury Melanie Bandurraga, Ph.D., independent consultant, EAS Consulting Group, Alexandria, VA. “Part of the challenge of avoiding allergen cross-contact issues comes from rapid innovation in product development to meet competitive needs, which can lead to an increase in the complexity of ingredients and products. It is critical to do thorough risk assessments of allergen risk for new products and ingredients, and determine what training, labeling, segregation, sequencing or other control measures will be adequate to avoid food-allergen cross-contact risk. Many plants use contract workers in addition to their own workforce, and it is critical that both groups are thoroughly trained in how their own hygiene and following good allergen-risk-control work practices contribute to managing food-allergen risk.” She notes that despite even the best preventative measures, companies must be equipped with full traceability in the event of an ingredient recall.