Food allergies are a serious problem that is increasingly common in Canada. More than 2.6 million Canadians report having food allergies, and it is estimated that 3-4% of adults and 5-6% of children in Canada have food allergies.
Any type of food can contain allergens, however, some food is more easily allergic. Common allergens include wheat, gluten, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, milk, etc. Although many children outgrown their food allergies as they become adults, some allergies, such as from peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish, often lasts throughout someone’s life. The reaction of food allergies can include rashes, hives, or even serious life-threatening allergies such as anaphylaxis. This is why food allergy must be very seriously treated.
Canada’s food businesses are responsible for knowing what allergens are present in their food. Food businesses need to ensure that correct procedures and training are in place and employees need to understand that they are obliged to declare known allergens in food when customers request them.
Effective allergen management is the key to protecting food businesses from allergic events and a food safety course can teach you in detail about allergens and how to deal with them. The following are important things food businesses need to know about proper management of allergens.
Understanding your Supplier’s Allergen Protocol
It is the essential for the food businesses to know the exact ingredients in their food items. Food businesses should understand how suppliers determine the allergen status of their items. In addition, they can ask suppliers to provide information about the measures taken before the declaration of allergen status.
In addition, food businesses must maintain communication with selected suppliers; this allows them to maintain the latest ingredients or formulation changes and how suppliers determine any changes in allergens.
Know How to Handle and Store Allergens
It is necessary for food businesses to store food. All foods need to be handled and stored in a way that minimizes cross-contamination chances. Items containing allergens should be away from other foods and clearly marked in the container. If food containing allergens cannot be separated from other foods, they should be stored below other foods to reduce cross-contamination.
Food Businesses must always ensure that all employees understand the items, as well as their ingredients. Be sure to check the product label as the ingredients may change. Be sure to check for allergens, including allergens listed by other names. Food businesses can only use labeled ingredients and products, and care must be taken when adding ingredients to food items.
Know How to Prepare Allergen Free Meals
It is absolutely essential to know how to prepare allergen-free lunches, and a dedicated space and cooking utensils for that are absolutely indispensable. This allows food businesses to safely prepare food without specific allergens if requested by customers.
These special zones and cookware must be cleaned and disinfected after each use. This is because different customers will have different allergies. For example, customers can require a meal prepared with soy milk instead of cow milk due to allergies.
There is a common misconception that people must consume a lot of allergens for allergic reactions. Unfortunately, this is not true. Even a minimum amount of allergen is enough to cause serious allergic reactions in some people. Armed with this knowledge, it is imperative that food businesses clean and disinfect dedicated areas and equipment each time they use it.
This is how to deal with allergens in food businesses. A food safety course can teach you in much more details, about allergens and its different types and how to handle it in your food business.