The FDA issues a large number of recalls each year for a multitude of reasons. Reasons for recall include product tainted with bacteria such as E.coli or salmonella or if foreign objects have made their way into the product before shipping. We pay close attention to recalls, and we’ve noticed a trend in recalled product for a third reason. Many manufacturers are failing to identify potential food allergens in their product and label packaging accordingly. This week, we’ll look at Minnesota and ServSafe allergen labeling procedures.
ServSafe Guidelines for Allergen Label Warnings
Food allergies have become a growing concern among customers who purchase grab-and-go items from food producers. In order to prevent inadvertent consumption of common food allergens, the Minnesota Department of Health requires labels on pre-packaged foods produced for sale. These labels should contain the following information:
- Identity or name of packaged item
- Net quantity of product
- Ingredient list, including major food allergens
- Nutritional information
While there’s a lot to consider when labeling your product, we’d like to focus on the major food allergens. There are eight items outlined by the department of health as major food allergens. These eight food items are responsible for approximately 90 percent of all allergies. The labels on prepackaged foods must identify these ingredients:
- Tree nuts
- Crustacean shellfish
- Milk and dairy products
If your product contains any of these items, you must indicate that on the product’s label. We’d like to see food producers take it a step further and indicate on your label if you handle any of these items in your facility. Third-party contact can sicken those with extreme food allergen sensitivity.
We’d like to note that these rules apply more to producers of food for retail and restaurants that have prepacked foods available rather than customers who order takeout. However, you should use your best judgment and rely on this ServSafe allergen labeling training to identify the eight major food allergens on your menu if you don’t serve prepackaged foods. Marking common allergens on your menu can help those afflicted by allergies steer clear of items that may initiate an attack.
Do you identify and inform your customers of allergens in prepackaged food at your establishment?