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Posted 07 May 2019 - 03:22 PM

We recently started working for a new client and one of his customers has on the label 2 allergen free logos: gluten-free and milk-free logos. We are a packaging company which is a service provider for packaging and storage of fresh fruit and vegetables. How did the supermarket get to the faboulous idea of putting gluten-free and milk-free logos on their private label, I have no idea. I also find it strange that they have the full nutritional value of the product on the label, although for fresh fruit and vegetable this information is not mandatory in the EU. And whoever works with these products knows that the content of sugar is never the same and changes depending on the fluctuations of the weather, season and source of the product. 


But back to the allergen problem. I understand that a bakery which is producing rice cookies will put a gluten-free logo on them to make sure that customers suffering of allergies will buy the product, but why does a tomato, strawberry, grape or mandarin need to be gluten-free? I can see from far away that there are only grapes in the packaging. And of course we have these allergens in our company because we can't tell to our employees that they are not allowed to eat bread, yoghurt and cheese from now on. We have hygiene rules to prevent cross contamination with allergens (eating only in canteen, no working clothes in canteen, washing of hands at return to work), but will this be enough at the audit? I really don't want to send a product which is not ours (it is owned by the client, who selects and assesses its suppliers) to be tested at the lab or start doing swab tests only because some supermarket decided to put allergen free-logos on products that are obviously without those allergens. I checked in the supermarket and everything that is locally packed with own brand label has the same logos.


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Posted 07 May 2019 - 04:29 PM

Are these declarations actually third party certified or regulated in the EU? I am not familiar with the process there. 

HOWEVER, employees that bring allergenic items into a lunch room but then follow proper hygiene procedures are not enough to contaminate your production line.  Your hygiene policy should be enough to prevent contamination of an inherently non-allergenic product without the need for swab testing unless your customer specifically requires it.


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Posted 07 May 2019 - 04:33 PM

IMHO your hygiene rules are sufficient to prevent cross-contamination of your work area. 


As for obvious allergen free logos, sometimes there is a legitimate reason behind.
Lets say a plant that process and package fresh tomatoes decided to process lower grades tomatoes instead of trowing them out or selling them at discount. They would grind them to make tomato paste, sauces and tomato based drinks. Some ingredients for these products might include flour, sulfites, vegetable oil that might come from peanuts, nuts or coconuts. Even the lubricants for the machines and conveyors might be peanut based (You should check that out).


Some companies that handle fresh produce also handle dry foods like flavored peanuts, spices, seeds and such. Milk and gluten allergens could come from powdered flavoring.


    Grade - MIFSQN

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Posted 07 May 2019 - 04:55 PM

If you process high volume of these allergen labeled products, you can address cross contact issue by producing them on a specific day only or making them after the no-allergen labeled products. and then you can validate your cleaning and sanitation program if the allergens are removed by your cleaning program.


Just an option for you to add to your allergen management program.

"Whatever you do, do it well..." - Walt Disney



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Posted 07 May 2019 - 05:05 PM

So, your basic question is why would someone put gluten-free on a package of fruit?  -- It's a marketing thing.


This was also a marketing thing:  All corn used for popcorn in the US is Non-GMO.  One company that packages popcorn decided to get their product certified as non-gmo and everybody at all the other popcorn companies started screaming!  It's a marketing thing.


As to how someone can put a nutritional label for instance on a fruit in a country that does not require labeling - again, it's a marketing thing based on averages.


Actually I see that as pretty much being pretty effective in the marketplace, would most certainly standout.


Another one - when it comes to Gluten-Free, there are some packaging companies that use glue strips in their boxes and packaging with a certain amount of gluten in the strips and now we see packaging companies coming out with gluten-free certifications, makes sense actually and heightens the publics awareness that there is packaging that could contain gluten- nil chance of it transferring to product, but again a great marketing thing.

Kind regards,
Glenn Oster

Goodstart Coastal Enterprises, PMA | Business Development & SQF Development, Implementation & Certification Consultant - 772.646.4115



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