Procurement of raw materials including ingredients, additives, processing aids, lubricants, cleaning materials etc. should be conducted with care because they may potentially contain allergens.

Suppliers of raw materials may carry allergen risks, some of which may be unique to that individual supplier. Reviewing a supplier’s understanding of allergen risks and the controls that are in place for the material that is to be procured, impacts upon the confidence that your business has in understanding the allergen status of the raw material.

The first step is to talk to the supplier and discuss their allergen risks and how they can demonstrate appropriate allergen controls are in place. It may be useful to ask the supplier questions such as those in this Example – Supplier Questionnaire.

A raw material supplier should be reviewed in two ways.

  1. the supplier’s overall allergen management practices
  2. the allergen status of each ingredient

Review the responses from the supplier and, if warranted, investigate further or arrange a visit or an audit. If a supplier sources their ingredients from more than one manufacturing site or location, cross contact profiles may differ. Additionally, if a supplier manufactures the same raw material at two different locations, the cross contact profiles may differ. This will need to be taken into account when determining the material’s allergen status.

Implement an approved supplier program and only procure ingredients from your business’ approved supplier list. This list should include suppliers who have been reviewed and have effective allergen controls in place.

It may be useful to implement an allergen rating program within your business which rates the risk of each raw material supplier. Only procure materials from an approved supplier list that includes suppliers that have an allergen risk rating that is acceptable to your business. Procurement of raw materials from suppliers that are high risk should be avoided.

Check that procedures are in place to ensure that each material is procured against its correct supplier specification and that materials are never purchased without its approved supplier specification. Ensure that supplier agreements are in place to ensure the material meets specification.

If a material is purchased from multiple sources, ensure the allergen status is the same. If the allergen status is different from one source to the other, there should be a supplier specification for each material and procedures in place to manage them separately throughout the manufacturing process.

A material supplier may use more than one manufacturing site and each may have a different allergen risk. The supplier should provide information about which site the material is manufactured – the PIF should provide this information.

A raw material trader (one that sources materials from more than one location or provider) should be able to provide information about the origins of the material, show a thorough understanding of the allergen risks for each provider, and be able to provide this information within the specification or PIF.