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Undeclared Allergen Incident & Investigation Protocol
It has long been recognised that investigation of food allergen incidents involving allergic reactions can be complex and require a thorough examination of business practices; the difficulties are exacerbated by the fact that investigators are not faced with these incidents on a regular basis.
This is not an issue limited to only Victoria, the same difficulties and complexities are faced by food regulators across Australia and New Zealand.
Given the potential for severe consequences in susceptible persons and the rise in allergy rates in Australia, it is an area of increasing concern.
In 2014, New South Wales Food Authority introduced an ‘Undeclared Allergen Incident & Investigation Protocol’ document to the Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR). The draft document was reviewed by all states and territories, relevant feedback was incorporated and the document was endorsed by ISFR. The final published document is now available here.
The purpose of this document is to provide procedures for food regulators in their investigation of incidents relating to undeclared allergens in foods (both in the retail/food service and manufacturing sectors), and may be used to supplement standard food investigation practice.
The protocol incorporates some useful information and checklists that may be used in the course of a local council investigation, assisting the investigator to identify any areas of potential concern.
The department encourages all councils to use this protocol when undertaking an allergen incident investigation.