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Allergen Cross-Contamination: Risks and Prevention, Part II

Welcome to Part II in our series on allergen cross-contamination risks and prevention. In the previous post, we discussed determining critical control points and establishing critical limits. This post will review HACCP Principles 4-6, which focus on allergen monitoring procedures, corrective actions, and verification procedures.

Principle 4: Establish Monitoring Procedures 

Monitoring is a planned sequence of observations (measurements) to assess the efficacy of the CCP hazard identification process and produce a reliable record for verification of procedures. Monitoring methods, including visual observation, temperatures, time, pH, and immunological tests, must be rapid and reliable to support real-time response. 

In the case of allergen detection, a test method must also demonstrate maximum accuracy as determined by optimized sensitivity (ability to detect allergens at levels that may be problematic for >95% of the population) and specificity (ability to avoid cross-reactivity resulting in false-positive results).  

Read more about Hygiena’s allergen limits of detection in the whitepaper: Pushing the Limits of Food Allergen Detection, Allergen Threshold Guidance for Food Manufacturers and Processors

Principle 5: Establish Corrective Actions 

The primary purpose for instituting a corrective action plan is to prevent hazardous foods from reaching consumers. Therefore, where there is a deviation from critical limits guidelines, corrective actions are required and should include amelioration, proper disposition (segregation and elimination), and formal documentation. 

Principle 6: Establish Verification Procedures 

Verification refers to activities that confirm HACCP plan validity. In terms of allergen detection, the verification process includes frequent confirmation (verification) that established cleaning procedures effectively remove allergen residues and contaminants. The verification analysis is typically conducted with high sensitivity, qualitative immunochromatographic method (e.g., the lateral flow device (LFD)). Notably, the verified rapid test procedure is also less frequently validated for accuracy by more complex, established reference laboratory methods such as enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) or polymerase chain reaction (PCR). 

In support of these critical HACCP food safety procedures, Hygiena™ offers a complete line of testing products for food processing facilities of any size, including:  

  • AlerTox® Sticks: simple, yet sensitive lateral flow devices ideal for rapid allergen monitoring with seamless EnSURE™ Touch ATP integration supported by secure SureTrend™ Cloud data integrity, preprogrammed and custom reporting, and LIMS compatibility. 
  • High sensitivity allergen enzyme immunoassays, including AlerTox® and GlutenTox®, for allergen protein quantification: compatible with all standard ELISA processing equipment  
  • Gold Standard PCR tests: compatible with the Hygiena BAX® System  

LEARN MORE about Hygiena’s Allergen Detection Solutions.