CAN YOU AFFORD THE RISKS?
The control of substances that cause allergenic reaction falls heavily under the remit of the need for strict and efficient food labelling.
We may think we already have a handle on label discipline and yet the reality under inspection does not always bear this out. Specifically with allergens, food traceability and labelling is now firmly in the spotlight as the new labelling regulations, established in November 2004 and enforced as of last year are set to hit home.
A FATAL ERROR?
The impact of incorrect labelling is obvious. One error on a label that allows an undisclosed nut ingredient to cause a fatal allergic reaction would be tragic for the victim and could financially close the manufacturer down. It is not just the accuracy pf the data that there should be concern, but the labels and associated fixings and adhesives must be sufficiently robust to withstand refrigeration if necessary, and must retain their identity and clarity of information through to point of use.
To that we can add in attention by technicians on goods inward lines and in the warehouse, especially with reworked and quarantined goods.
All these issues however can be overcome through using professional labelling systems and machinery or software that is readily available. This can be coupled with a strong regime of enforced procedural standards, or automated systems that remove the potential for human error.
The truth is that all manufacturers have label issues to one degree or another. The costs of this problem vary, and thankfully few issues end up in the public domain, being mostly caught "in-house" but nevertheless the costs of lost downtime, product recall, re-labelling and stock control are vast yet this need not be so!
Modern software, technology and management systems are changing the efficiency of labelling management companies must change too. Better diligence and more investment in labelling accuracy is essential. The new legislation will make prosecution inevitable when an allergy sufferer next falls prey to a product label error. Ask yourself when did you last have a problem in labels? More importantly when will you next have a problem with labelling and will you be able to afford it?