3 Things On-Farm Food Processors Should Know About Allergen Testing

10 January 2020
 Categories: , Blog


Food allergies present a public health concern in the modern world. Reduction of the prevalence of this issue requires food processors to identify and regulate allergens to prevent risks of cross-contamination. Notably, food allergens refer to proteins that occur naturally in food or their derivatives. The allergens cause the human immune system to respond abnormally. Foods that are considered to have allergens include eggs, milk and peanut. Every food processing plant must ensure that food coming out of the production system is tested for allergens to meet the food safety standards. Here is what on-farm food processors should know about allergen testing.

Australia Food Safety Standards

The statutory authority responsible for ensuring food safety in Australia is the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). The agency requires food processors to declare products, which are in the form of ingredients, processing aid and food additive. As a food processor, you must declare information on certain foods or their products, especially for soybean, peanuts, eggs, cereals containing gluten and milk. If you package your food, the information must be on the label for potential customers to view.   

Beware of Cross Contact Allergens

Even though some foods may not contain allergens, trace amounts of allergens from allergen-containing food might cause contamination unintentionally in what is commonly referred to as cross-contact allergens. Food processing at the farm level should ensure that all points where cross-contact contamination can occur are identified and monitored routinely to minimise the occurrence. Continuous training of your employees on allergen management can go a long way in reducing food allergen risks. Furthermore, if you receive the raw material from other farmers, then ensure that the suppliers are adequately trained to manage allergens on their end. It is also a good practice for all suppliers to provide you with relevant information on food allergen from their raw materials. Additionally, all food manufacturing and packaging processes should be subjected to allergen tests.

Testing for Allergens

Testing of foods and products for allergens is a key element in the allergen management in your on-farm food processing facility. The most popular method for testing allergens is the ELISA test. ELISA is an acronym for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. ELISA testing and analysis is favourable because of its ability to detect trace elements in parts per million (PPM). Find a modern laboratory in your locality with a range of testing services for allergens to ensure that food products coming out of your facility are safe for human consumption.