I am really confused about allergen control in the premises, so I thought you might be able to help me? We will have an audit soon, so any help will be much appreciated!
Our whole site is nut-free, so no nuts (etc) are allowed. No other allergens are handled on the factory floor. We produce single-ingredient product.
Our factory is downstairs, canteen and offices are upstairs. Employees sometimes have allergens (except nuts) either in the canteen or in the offices. Is it allowed? It doesn't reach factory floor- we undergo all changing procedures, so I would guess it's fine?
We just developed new product which contains sesame seeds. It is blended and packed elsewhere but we keep some stock of it upstairs in the office. Is it allowed? Do we treat it as any other food product (allergen) that is brought on site? I am quite worried because sesame seeds are tiny and it's more difficult to control them. However, they are sealed and in closed boxes.
Thank you in advance!
I second Ads78's response. It is definitely best not to allow nuts in your facility (in breakrooms and so forth) especially considering you don't handle allergens normally. You should also be cautious about other allergens as well; besides just nuts. Sometimes those things are harder to control, when people bring in their own food. In that instance, you would definitely want to install a handwashing station either inside the breakroom, or right outside of it before entering production. It would also be a very good idea to have people who handle product and primary packaging to wear gloves as well (if they don't already do that).
You definitely want to risk assess your breakrooms and non-production areas for allergens. You should also make flow maps to show flow of traffic to and from those areas. This will help you determine if you have any points of possible contamination and if traffic should be routed elsewhere to prevent it.
As for the sesame seeds, yes, you would treat them as any other allergen you have onsite. This is better if they stay sealed the entire time. Apparently they are being stored in an office? If that is the case, you still should make sure that they are stored in a manner so as to prevent contamination from occurring (for instance, storing the non-allergens above the allergens). If you must work with the product with sesame seeds, wear gloves and other PPE in the office, clean up the area after handling, and wash your hands and arms if you have to go elsewhere. You should make sure your receiving department checks the incoming pallets before they come off the van trailer to make sure there aren't any broken bags or boxes though. Even so, as Ads78 stated, you should have an allergen spillage procedure in the event the product is damaged somehow. You should also include the flow of receiving and storing product containing sesame seeds in your flow map.