Step 6 of 15
Material staging, batch assembly
When preparing ingredients for addition to batches (including transferring them from storage or weighing or measuring out the materials) care should be taken to ensure the correct ingredients are used, and handling is such that cross contact does not occur.
The collection and preparation of raw materials for production has the potential for causing allergen cross contact. Ensure ingredients and their allergen status are easily identified. This can be by using the identification process applied at raw material receipt and storage (such as stickering). Any partially used bags, containers, decanted liquids, or ingredients that have been removed from their original packaging should also clearly show the material’s allergen status.
If incorrect materials are issued from storage and used for production, allergens can unknowingly be added to a batch. Procedures to prevent this from occurring include implementing documented controls that record and verify that the right ingredients have been used.
Any ingredients that are not used during production and are returned to storage should be managed such that the allergens are clearly identified, and cross contact is prevented.
Processes for any changes to materials (such as trial ingredients or alternative ingredients) should be tightly controlled.
When weighing out dry ingredients, consider the potential for airborne cross contact. Visual observation of ledges and other areas for settled dust, and if dust is not visible analytical testing of surfaces can be used to understand the risk of airborne allergen cross contact occurring. Implement procedures to prevent airborne allergens such as:
- altering the nature of the dry material so that it doesn’t dust (such as adding vegetable oil to the ingredient)
- allocating a dedicated weighing area that controls airflow (such as sufficient ventilation or air extraction, removal of fans, elimination of recycled air) to reduce dust disseminating onto surfaces
- weighing the material at times or shifts that minimise exposure to other foods
Tools, scoops and other utensils are a potential source of allergen cross contact. It is ideal to have dedicated equipment (such as different scoops for each ingredient), or colour coded utensils for each allergen. Consider using disposable utensils, or clean between each use if they are not dedicated. Ensure that there are standard operating procedures in place for cleaning of utensils.
Allergen cross contact can occur if raw material packaging is used for other ingredients, particularly where the ingredient contains an allergen (for example skim milk powder bags should not be used to store sugar).
The allergens present in raw materials that have gone through a preparation step, or a partially prepared batch, should be clearly flagged, and operators should be able to identify the allergens being handled.