Allergen residues on surfaces and shared equipment can compromise the safety of your food products. Therefore, you should have good sanitation measures in your commercial or industrial food operation. In addition, you should plan on conducting regular swabs and tests to ensure that your cleaning measures are effective against undeclared allergens. Here are some fundamental tips on testing to help you validate your sanitation program.
Use Commercial Swabs
Unsuitable swabs might compromise the results of your allergen tests. Under normal circumstances, you should use the products supplied by your chosen commercial kit manufacturer. If you use swabs which are not intended for allergen control protocols, you might get false positives. For instance, cheap cotton swabs intended for personal care are often made using recycled materials. As a result, the proteins in the materials might be detected during the analysis.
Check Hidden Zones
Conduct tests using samples from multiple points on the surface or equipment of interest. Do not focus only on the obvious flat areas which are easy to access. You must also check on other zones of your production line which come in contact with food but are easy to ignore. For instance, the joints in equipment and other crevices are easy to ignore when testing. Unfortunately, these are the areas where allergens are likely to be trapped. Therefore, collect samples to ensure that your cleaning process is effective.
Plan for Repeat Tests
You should conduct multiple tests for allergens to account for variations. In simple terms, checking the surfaces once does not confirm that your sanitation measures are effective. You can only promote optimal allergen control by guarding against potential deviations from the norm. For instance, you need to consider the differences which might occur when a different cleaning team handles sanitation. Also, changes in production volume or the quality of ingredients might also cause a deviation in the allergen residues. Therefore, you should plan for multiple tests as part of your control program.
Review the Measures
Finally, conduct a review of your sanitation and testing measures. When you acquire your test results, you must interpret and make appropriate changes. If there are true positives for the target allergen, it might be necessary to improve your cleaning approach, equipment or agent. You should also be on the lookout for the best allergen testing kits for your operations. Different companies have proprietary technology for their kits. Therefore, look for the most compatible product for your food safety needs.
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