Published 25 Oct 2023
What is an Allergen Checklist?
An allergen checklist is a tool used by food manufacturers and businesses to evaluate allergen control measures during food production. Using an allergen checklist ensures that food products are safe from food allergens that pose negative health risks to allergic consumers. Food businesses should follow allergen information rules set by the local government to avoid legal ramifications, penalties, or business closure.
In this article
- What are the Major Food Allergens?
- How Can Allergies Be Managed?
- What are the Challenges of Implementing an Allergen Control Policy?
- How Can Allergen Management Procedures be Improved?
- Essential Components of an Allergen Checklist
- What is SafetyCulture and how can it help with my Allergen Checklist?
- Top 3 Allergen Checklists
What are the Major Food Allergens?
According to the FDA, more than 160 foods can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies. Through thorough food allergy research, the FDA has defined the top 8 most common allergenic foods:
- Crustacean shellfish
- Tree nuts
The above-mentioned foods or any of their derivatives are required by governments to be listed on product labels to help allergic consumers easily avoid them. Allergen checklists, compliance with Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls (HARPC), and the right HACCP programs should also cover these foods to ensure food safety for allergic consumers.
How Can Allergies Be Managed?
There are a few key things that can be done to help manage allergies:
- An allergen checklist is helpful in identifying and controlling allergens. This checklist can be used by food suppliers and manufacturers, as well as by consumers.
- A food allergen checklist can help grocery stores and restaurants determine and control potential allergens in the food they serve.
- An allergen policy template can also be used to create an allergen management procedure for a business. This policy should identify the allergens that are of concern, the steps that will be taken to control them, and the personnel responsible for implementing and monitoring the policy.
- An allergen checklist can help individuals with food allergies verify and avoid potential allergens.
What are the Challenges of Implementing an Allergen Control Policy?
Many establishments have difficulty implementing an allergen control policy because it can be difficult to keep track of all the allergens in the food. Hence, establishments need to have a system in place to track the allergens in their food. They also need to have procedures in place for handling food allergies. Another important step is to properly and thoroughly train employees on how to handle food allergies.
How Can Allergen Management Procedures be Improved?
Food allergens are one of the leading causes of food-related illness in the United States, with an estimated 8 percent of children in the United States affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With this significant finding, allergen management procedures are essential for reducing the risk of food-related illnesses. Such management procedures can be improved by using allergen checklists. These checklists help food suppliers and manufacturers identify and control allergens in their products and allow food service operators to create allergen-free menus.
Essential Components of an Allergen Checklist
1. General Points
This evaluates if your HACCP programs cover allergen risks in the total production chain and assess if the food production staff receives regular allergen training. It also checks if regular internal audits are conducted to ensure compliance with the general requirements of allergen control and how allergy symptoms and cases of suspected contamination are handled by employees.
2. Raw materials
This evaluates the receiving, storage, and weighing process for raw materials to minimize risks of allergen contamination. For example, one of the questions in an allergen checklist checks for proper handling and labeling of raw materials.
3. Production, premises, and equipment
This part of the checklist assesses the availability of instructions on contamination and allergy prevention and if hygienic rules—whether in printed or digital form—are present within the premises. The design of premises, equipment, and work tools are also checked to see if they are easy to clean and if they help minimize contamination between production lines.
4. Cleaning and controls
This part checks if cleaning instructions are present, clear, and easily accessible within the premises. There should be clear cleaning instructions between the production of different products in the same production line to avoid cross-contamination between allergenic and non-allergenic food.
What is SafetyCulture and how can it help with my Allergen Checklist?
Protect your employees from the most common food allergies with SafetyCulture. Replace paper forms with a digital checklist and cover all possible risks from food allergens to ensure safe and market-ready finished products for allergic consumers. Evaluate your procedures for allergen control and improve tedious and time-consuming workflows that involve paper forms, spreadsheets, scanning, and faxing by using a mobile inspection app like SafetyCulture, the world’s #1 inspection software. With SafetyCulture, you can:
- Conveniently perform allergen control checks using your tablet or mobile device.
- Assign corrective actions on problem areas or items you’ve identified during inspection.
- Take or attach photos and add notes during inspection.
- Get insights on food production quality with analytics
- Automatically generate comprehensive reports and share them with team members. Preview sample report.
- Use for free with small teams. Unlimited reports and storage, integrations, and real-time analytics for premium accounts.
Top 3 Allergen Checklists
This allergen checklist is specifically made for suppliers and manufacturers to ensure safety on food products for consumers with food allergies, and prevent costly recalls.This allergen checklist for suppliers and manufacturers was derived from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and was converted using SafetyCulture.