Raw materials and ingredients should be stored such that allergen cross contact is prevented. Processes to manage spillages of ingredients in storage and returns to warehouse should be in place.

The allergen status of each raw material should be identified, and the ingredient should be labelled or tagged to clearly show its allergen profile before it is stored within the manufacturing facility. Ingredients should then be placed in an appropriate storage location that prevents cross contact from occurring.

Segregation of materials that contain allergens can include physical barriers, separate racking or vertical segregation. Ideally, ingredients with allergens should be stored at floor level (or lower shelves), however where materials have the same allergen, vertical segregation may involve ingredients with like allergens stored directly above each other. If racking is not available and pallets have to be stacked, ensure there is suitable physical protection (such as cardboard pallet covers) between each pallet and same allergens are stacked together. Ingredient packaging should always be sealed, and all packs should be resealed after use.

The physical nature of ingredients and their allergens (including cross contact allergens) may impact upon whether they are difficult or easy to control and how they should be stored. Procedures should specify how different ingredients should be handled during storage.
Considerations should include: –

  • Liquid ingredients
  • Temperature controls (such as cold storage)
  • Sticky or inherently messy ingredients
  • Powders (dusting)
  • Degree of refinement (such as cold pressed oils versus degummed, neutralised, bleached and deodorised oils)
  • Particulate or readily dispersible allergens
  • Physical behaviour (such as sesame seeds clumping due to their electrostatic properties)

Standard Operating Procedures and work instructions that describe how spillages are to be handled should be readily available. This should include instructions to contain the spread of allergens, such as the allocation of designated areas, or that spillages should be removed by vacuum and not compressed air. Consider pictorial details showing correct techniques with examples of what (and what not) to do. Allergen spill kits should be readily accessible.

If the allergen status of a raw material or ingredient changes, consider the following:
• Requirement for prior communication and allowance for appropriate time for setting up warehouse and incoming/outgoing goods.
• The implications for transit, goods receipt, internal transport.
• Volumes required to ensure appropriate space within storage and staging areas.
• Labelling and signage.

An effective AMP will include documented procedures in place to control the receipt and storage of raw materials and packaging.