Consistent policy on allergens for Verstegen Spices & Sauces
The European Commission regulated the labelling of 14 allergens in Directive 2003/89/EC. Information is very important for consumers who suffer from a food allergy or food intolerance. This legislation not only has direct consequences for labelling methods, but also has an impact on total chain management.
Without a correct understanding of exactly what happens to allergens in a production company, correct and meaningful labelling is impossible. A manufacturer who wants to provide reliable information about the presence of allergenic substances will also do their utmost to prevent cross-contamination. A manufacturer must control the whole production process, from the choice made during the purchasing of raw materials to selling to the customer; otherwise the information on the label is worthless.
Verstegen aims for quality, Verstegen aims for food safety. For this reason, many players in the European market choose Verstegen. They make great demands on us when it comes to our policy on allergens, for example, and we gladly deliver.
The main measures taken are listed below:
- For raw materials, a monitoring programme has been drawn up, e.g. in the field of allergens. Everything is evaluated by independent auditors.
- The raw materials are stored per allergen or allergen group according to allergen number, so that specific allergen zones are created in the storage area.
- Throughout the whole production process, the raw materials are kept separated right down to the mixes.
- Specific working methods relating to dealing with allergens are included in procedures and work instructions.
- Verstegen has a unique patented production process.
- A chip on the barrels ensures that automated checks are made and makes the use of unclean barrels impossible.
- Taking account of the order of production prevents the transfer of allergens
- The allergen numbers follow the raw material during the whole production process with labelling.
- Staff have been and continue to be trained in how to deal with allergens.
- Machines are cleaned after every product change-over.
- The cleaning of machines, materials and parts used is checked according to a monitoring programme that has been drawn up, and tested using allergen testing methods.
- Testing methods which are used in the monitoring programme are allergen swabs and Elisa tests.
- With gluten swabs, an assessment is made of whether the tested surface of e.g. barrels has actually been cleaned. The result of the test is then negative or positive (>5ppm).
- Also, various gluten Elisa tests are carried out annually. This analysis is used to determine if gluten can be found in e.g. an end product. This test method indicates a quantity.
- An allergen working group is active to deal with any customer-specific questions.
- In order to ensure that everything proceeds according to the most stringent standards, our allergens policy is tested in various quality systems.
- Allergens policy is fully integrated in the HACCP system.
- Verstegen operates according to BRC High Level, certified by Lloyds.
- Verstegen operates according to IFS High Level, certified by Lloyds.
- Our Quality System is tested according to the ISO standard.
- Verstegen has obtained Risk Plaza+ and is audited by Lloyds.
We are keen to help you develop completely allergen-free products. Verstegen has plenty of experience with these developments. Our experience has already taught us that close cooperation with the account in question leads to the best results.
We are always pleased to show off our modern production facility, which is equipped to deal flexibly with all customer queries. And if you are here anyway, the Verstegen trend presentations are now so well known that we would be glad to tell you about our latest innovations. The topics Quality, Innovation and Service then come up without any prompting.
If you would like further information about the measures Verstegen Spices & Sauces B.V. is taking on the issue of allergens, please contact your representative or our sales teame.
General Information food allergy
Information is essential for consumers suffering from food allergies or food intolerance. For this group of people a lack of detailed information is a handicap, because they can never be certain that the goods they buy are free from allergens. For that reason consumers suffering from food allergies or food intolerance need to be informed about the composition of food products via information on the label. Of course, Verstegen Spices & Sauces would like to help the consumer with this.
A food allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system to an essentially non-harmful food product or substance. It nearly always involves proteins. The human body considers the protein or proteins in a particular food product to be an intruder and produces an abundance of histamine, and other chemical substances, to battle the proteins. In cases of food intolerance or food sensitivity the immune system does not react.
The number of people suffering from food allergies or food intolerance is on the increase (according to the Institue of Food Allergy, 8% of all children and 3% of adults). Also, new allergens are being discovered. Allergens can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting and eczema.
To provide better information to the consumer about the composition of food products and the presence of allergens, the European Committee has provided a guideline to improve the labelling of food products. Amongst other matters dealt with, it means that twelve recognised food products are considered to be an allergen, as well as derivatives of these, and the additive sulfite must always and without exception be named in the list of ingredients under their own name.
The official list of allergens
Cereals containing gluten and products made from grains that contain gluten.
Crustaceans and products based on shellfish;
Eggs and egg-based products;
Fish and products based on fish;
Peanuts and products based on groundnuts (peanuts)
Soy products and soy-based;
Milk and milk-based products (including the lactose);
Nuts and nut products (nuts);
Celery and products based on celery;
Mustard and products based on mustard;
Sesame seeds and products based on sesame seeds;
Sulphite in concentrations of at least 10 mg / kg or 10 mg / l (sulfur dioxide and sulfite);
Lupine and lupine-based products;
Molluscs and products based on molluscs;
These fourteen substances have been selected because a great number of people are sensitive to these and consuming them could have consequences for their health. This particular guideline only deals with the known presence of allergens. The recommendation does not offer a solution for the possible presence of allergens due to cross contamination. Cross contamination means that an allergen could get into contact with a allergen free product due to, for example, insufficient cleaning of machinery.
Without a clear understanding of what happens with allergens in a production company, correct and meaningful labelling is impossible. A manufacturer wanting to provide reliable information regarding the presence of allergens will need to endeavour to prevent cross contamination. This is precisely the area that Verstegen Spices & Sauces has been involved in during the last years, and will continue to do so in the future. To make this clear and transparent towards the consumer we have constructed an allergen policy. This allergen policy is described in the next chapter and gives a general view on how Verstegen Spices & Sauces deal with allergens and which measures are continuously taken to prevent cross-contamination of allergens.