Peanut and tree nut allergies are two of the top eight most common food allergies. The other six are milk, eggs, soy beans, fish, shellfish, wheat and corn. Allergies to peanuts are generally a life-long condition, with only about 20 percent of people with the allergy ever receiving a remedy. In addition, up to 40 percent of people with peanut allergies are also allergic to tree nuts.
An allergic reaction can occur just by touching a surface with a trace amount of peanut butter and then touching one’s eye. Some of the serious reactions can be deadly; therefore, identifying an allergen such as peanuts or tree nuts in food processing is vital to protecting consumers. The challenge in controlling allergens such as peanuts and tree nuts involves the entire process at a food production plant. Identifying the allergens means using preventative measures to detect them, particularly when producing products with allergen sources such as nuts.
Sample in Process
In order to minimize allergen contamination in food production and ensure safety and quality, food and beverages must be sampled automatically while in their production environment, whether that is a process pipeline, pneumatic convey line, gravity chute, hopper, bin, screw or belt conveyor. Sampling can help determine where an allergen entered a process so that it can be stopped at the source.
Installed in the process, an automated sampler continuously draws a composite sample representative of an entire batch or lot. Automated sampling provides the inherent benefits of taking a composite sample easily and cleanly without direct human interference, preserving the integrity of the sample. In addition, the automated sampler doesn’t interrupt food production, providing increased productivity over manual sampling.
Final Product Sampling
Beyond utilizing automatic sampling throughout the process at critical control points it is also imperative to verify that the final packaged product does not contain an undeclared allergen. The cost of human life and a recall is too great. Food producers involved in several recent recalls due to undeclared allergens could have greatly benefited from the use of an automated sampling solution.
A prepared rice dish was recalled after the Worcestershire sauce used in the rice product underwent its own recall due to the potential that the sauce may contain peanuts. Hygienic and 3-A certified liquid and slurry samplers can be easily integrated into sauce production lines for automatic sampling of final product for food safety and allergen testing.
Installing a new Sentry HRX hygienic sampler, for solids and powders, which has been specifically designed for use prior to final packaging, can allow producers to accurately verify that the final product mix is as expected. Representative final product sampling could have detected the inclusion of an incorrect ingredient mix in a retail packaged candy product that ultimately lead to a recall due to the potential that it may have contained peanuts.
The Sentry ISOLOK® MSE automatic point sampler for high viscosity materials automates sampling within a food process such as peanut or nut butter production. This automatic sampler can ensure reliable food safety and allergen testing for food producers such as an almond nut butter manufacturer that underwent a recall because it may have contained undeclared peanuts.
Consider the Cost
Automated sampling makes careful ingredient analysis and tracking possible so that allergens such as peanuts and tree nuts don’t enter a final product and if they do it makes it possible to detect these irregularities accurately and rapidly. That helps prevent recalls and potentially serious food allergy reactions. It also helps protect the food producer’s reputation and brand. Preserving public safety as well as a company’s business makes automated sampling worth its cost.