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Fda Releases Study On Cross-contamination
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Here is link to full document, or summary below. (This was in Clan Thompson newsletter)

http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~acrobat/alrgrep.pdf (Makes me think twice...)

The FDA's report to Congress regarding cross-contact with food allergens during

food manufacturing and distribution, and consumer preferences about advisory

labeling is out. This report was required as part of the Food Allergen Labeling

and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) and states that foods may become

unintentionally contaminated with major food allergens at almost any step of

manufacturing prior to final packaging. For instance, contamination can occur as

a result of allergens in raw ingredients or in processing aids, or as a result

of allergen carry-over from the use of shared equipment and from clean-in-place

fluid used to clean shared equipment. Dedicated facilities or production lines

can help control cross contamination, but their use is limited due to cost,

space limitations or equipment utilization needs.

It is difficult to determine the prevalence of cross-contamination for several

reasons, according to the FDA. Many instances of cross contamination are not

observable. For example, a raw ingredient can contain an undeclared allergenic

ingredient or processing aid. If the manufacturer doesn't know about the

presence of allergens in raw materials, they can produce food products that are

contaminated.

There is no known processing technology that can be used to automatically or

continuously exclude major allergens from all foods at risk of contamination.

However, good manufacturing practices help reduce or eliminate unintentional

cross contamination. A report prepared for the Center for Food Safety and

Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) states

the following: "Most food companies include allergen control as part of their

prerequisite program; most of the food companies have Sanitation Standard

Operating Procedures to delineate their cleaning practices in their allergen

control plan; the majority of the targeted food companies have validated the

effectiveness of their allergen cleaning approaches;" and "the majority of

included food companies train employees on an annual basis on topics related to

allergens."

Between FY2002-FY2004, the FDA conducted over 2,000 allergen-focused

inspections. Investigators determined that allergen cross-contact was likely to

occur in 25% of all inspected facilities during processing of food products.

Sources of contamination included residues of allergen-containing product on

equipment, build-up of product above the processing zone, and presence of

airborne food particles. Overall, equipment residues were judged to be the most

likely source of cross contamination, followed by airborne food particles, and

build-up of product above the processing zone.

Investigators also determined that 76% of all facilities handled unpackaged,

exposed product in a way to protect it against cross contamination with an

allergen.

Inspections done in FY2003-2004 found similar results with respect to receiving,

equipment, processing, testing, and labeling. However, for FY2003-2004, 79% of

the inspected facilities used one or more control measures associated with

production equipment to prevent allergen cross-contact compared to just 8% of

the FY2002 facilities. In the FY2003-2004 inspections, of the facilities that

tried to control cross contamination from equipment, 33% used dedicated

equipment, 74% used shared equipment with clean up in between manufacture of the

allergen containing product and the non-allergen containing product, 41% used

shared equipment with production scheduled to run allergenic product last, and

8.5% used other methods.

For facilities inspected in FY2003-2004, FDA investigators judged that 24% were

likely to have cross contact during processing compared to 25% in FY2002.

Data from the these inspections are not a representative sample of all

manufacturers using the most common food allergens, and the results should not

be generalized to all food production facilities, according to the FDA. The

facilities were selected based on certain criteria and not in an entirely random

fashion. Nevertheless, the results of these inspections provide insight into

current efforts to address the risks of food allergen cross contamination. Taken

together, the findings in the report suggest that a certain percentage of

facilities do attempt to address potential concerns associated with the use of

allegens in food products, but the extent to which a company does so varies.

Some companies did not apply any control measures in the handling and use of

allergens.

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Jen,

Thanks for posting that!

Laura

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Great post.

Though, now it just makes me even more paranoid about CC issues.

Perhaps with the added awareness, something will be done to address the very real issue of CC.

It does bring out the paranoia. I just think of stories of people dropping things, like body parts for example, in big vats of food and not reporting it :o

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I just think of stories of people dropping things, like body parts for example, in big vats of food and not reporting it :o

Now THAT'S something the FDA ought to be looking into!

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