The Importance of Food Safety

A 2010 study found that around 44% of UK adults suffer from at least one allergy, with a third of sufferers having to change their lifestyle in some way as a result of those allergies. The NHS list the most common types of food allergies being milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Reactions can vary from mild to very serious so any presence of these items must be made clear to the customer.

As a result, food safety is the most important element for food producers. If a customer becomes unwell from having your product, it will damage your brand reputation, your customer’s trust, and can even pose a legal risk to your business – with several regulations and legislation in place to protect customers.

Despite the measures in place surrounding food safety, millions of foodborne illnesses occur each year, so it’s important for businesses to take as many steps as they can to improve the safety of their food.

The Food Standards Agency estimates that around 2.4 million cases of foodborne illnesses occur every year.

One key element of managing food safety across production is allergen control. Businesses must be able to track and identify where allergens are present at any point in their operations, and what allergens they are.

Why You Need Allergen Control

  • 1. Customer safety that builds loyalty and trust.

  • 2. Preventing recalls that damage brand reputation.

  • 3. Avoid legal repercussions that risk the business.

1. Customer Safety and Loyalty

With the introduction of Natasha’s Law in October last year,  transparency on what is in food products is paramount. Consumers are becoming more conscious of what they eat, especially with the implementation of such laws.

By having the necessary controls in place surrounding allergens, a business can help protect its customers from becoming unwell or having negative experiences with that product. When customers believe a product is safe and the business has their safety as a priority, they are more likely to develop trust and loyalty to that brand – becoming repeat customers as a result.

2. Preventing Recalls

When a product must be recalled it has a massive impact on the business involved. Day-to-day operations get disrupted which incurs costs as well as having to manage the recall itself. Further to that, there are effects on brand reputation and loss of customer trust too.

Allergen mismanagement is the number one reason for food-related recalls. Already in 2022, there have been nine products recalled due to allergens – that’s one every week!

Effective allergen controls can help businesses limit the risk of their products having to be recalled. The measures businesses have taken in response to consumer awareness and new legal responsibilities are demonstrating this.

There was a 10% drop in recalls as a result of
undeclared allergens in 2021.

3. Avoiding Legal Repercussions

Food businesses in the UK are required by law to provide allergen information and follow labeling rules such as Natasha’s Law. The Food Standards Agency explains that businesses must “provide allergen information to the consumer for both prepacked and non-prepacked food and drink”, as well as “handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation”.

This means that these businesses need to have the relevant structures in place to ensure that they’re able to comprehensively provide that information to customers. Being able to track and account for allergens in the production process would enable the business to confirm and verify with legal bodies where any allergens were present and how they were handled.

It will also prevent lawsuits coming to the door because of an allergic reaction in a customer. Just a quick search online will return a lot of companies offering no-win-no-fee claims for allergic reaction lawsuits.

Compensation on these kinds of lawsuits can be anything up to £49,000!

How Traceability Software Handles Allergen Control

  • Allergen Tracking – best practice when handling allergens is knowing where and when an allergen is present, and how it has traveled through your business. Traceability software can track the elements within your products, throughout your entire production process. This means you can assign allergens to commodities, enabling you to do exactly that.
  • Allergen Warnings – when assigning allergens to commodities, you can also enable a setting that will display warnings to operators when an allergen is present during weigh-up. This guarantees awareness of an allergen’s presence and tells your operators to use the safest course of action.
  • Quality and Assurance Control – you could also set additional measures in place, by assigning QA questions to recipes to prevent the risk of contamination. One example might be asking operators if they are wearing PPE or if they have cleaned areas accordingly. This can also be reported digitally for evidence of the appropriate measures being in place.

Learn more about Stevens’ approach to allergen control, giving businesses the tools to apply best practices when handling allergens. Find out more by clicking here.

If you’d like to speak to someone from our team to discuss your requirements, you can contact us here.

Read More Here:

While you’re here, why not read one of our posts below to find out more ways to save your business money, without compromising on your production quality…