ALLERGY MATRIX TEMPLATE
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Food allergy chart
- Food allergens are compounds in food products that can trigger hypersensitivity reactions such as life-threatening food allergies from vulnerable individuals.
- The eight most common food allergens include wheat, eggs, milk, fish, crustaceans, soya, tree nuts, and peanuts.
- A food allergy chart is a tool that can help your food safety team and customers identify which food products may contain food allergens.
One of the most critical regulations by food safety agencies is the declaration of food allergens in your products and the establishment of a food allergy chart in your business. Food allergens are common compounds that can cause adverse effects in certain people. Allergic reaction to food is common all over the world for people who have a specific susceptibility to allergens.
Food allergy has been reported to occur to at least 220-250 million people worldwide and affects their everyday living. The effects of allergic reactions to food can significantly slow down productivity and even lead to serious health issues when left untreated. This is why it is legally required for you to provide all of the necessary information about allergens in the food you give to your customers.
To help you remember all necessary information for your allergen and guide your food handlers, a food allergen list template is here to help you. We will take you through a quick rundown of the necessary information about food allergens and how important a food allergy chart template is important.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is when the body's immune system reacts unusually to specific foods. In cases of food allergy reactions, your immune system mistakes a specific protein from allergens as a foreign, harmful compound and aggressively attacks it. Generally, all foods may have allergens, but only some have concentrated amounts in them making them capable to trigger negative reactions.
Allergic reactions are mostly mild, but for some people, they can cause adverse reactions or even life-threatening reactions. Reactions can range from mild gastrointestinal discomfort and itching to difficulty in breathing which can lead to death due to asphyxia or lack of oxygen.
The most common food allergy symptoms are:
- Tingling or itching in the mouth
- Hives, itching, or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat or other parts of the body
- Wheezing, nasal congestion, or trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
If you suspect you have a food allergy, it's always important to speak with your doctor about it. They will confirm your allergy with the help of allergy tests. If you have food allergies, chances are, you will carry them for the rest of your life.
That fact does not have to be the end of your love for high-risk foods. Safety precautions can be applied to minimize their effects on your body or completely prevent them from occurring for a span of time. On the food manufacturer's side, the key to keeping food safety a priority is to properly identify and duly declare any food allergens in your food products. On the other hand, it is a consumer's responsibility to know whether they are allergic to certain food articles or not.
Which foods cause allergic reactions?
There are several food products that can trigger food allergy reactions. The degree of allergic reactions depends on the concentration of protein allergens in a food product. Big 8 allergens include:
- tree nuts
Food allergy to these products is not only specific to the main food allergen. That is, derivatives of these food products or any food containing them can trigger allergic reactions. As an example, foods containing lecithin which is an emulsifier commonly used for chocolate compounds are considered allergenic since lecithin is commonly produced using soy.
Additional food allergens have been reported to be related to fruits and vegetables such as pineapples and papaya can also occur. In such cases, the immune system reacts to these food products because of their association with pollens. This type of allergy is known as oral allergy syndrome, which suggests that the symptoms are only limited to the mouth and throat.
This food allergy reaction is also associated with the consumption of celery. Allergy to this vegetable is connected with sensitivity to birch and mugwort pollens. In very serious cases, anaphylaxis can occur.
Because there is no known complete cure for food allergies proper food allergen management by food manufacturers is very important. Exclusion or proper declaration are considered critical control points in food processing facilities.
What is a food allergy chart?
A food allergy chart enables you to see at a glance which dishes on your menu contain any of the big 8 allergens and which don't. It's a record where all the menu and allergens in foods are listed, so you get a simple overview of all the necessary information. This food allergy document is especially useful for food manufacturing businesses and also for foodservice companies.
A food allergy chart is not legally required, but it can make your life easier when informing patrons especially people with food allergies. As your team is busy serving customers, you should do your best to make life easier for them. It can be challenging for your team to keep in mind all food allergens when the menu is changing, particularly when your team is seasonal.
Under a food allergy chart, you can list the specific food allergen in a portion of food on your menu. Your food allergy chart must be specific for your business, flexible, and clear with the information it contains. The best way to build your own food allergy chart is to have a flexible template that you can customize, download, and print anytime for your food safety management team.
All of these descriptors are what the FoodDocs food safety template hub is. Gain free access to some of the most important monitoring forms in the food industry and customize them to your food business operations. List down all your food products under our customizable template and check which allergen it has from the 8 potential allergens listed in the template.
Who needs a food allergen template?
Generally speaking, anyone who manufactures, prepares, serves, handles, or packs food is liable to declare food allergens in their products to protect their customers with allergies. The occurrence of public health issues due to consuming foods from your business with undeclared food allergens can result in serious legal problems.
Food agencies pursue the requirement of all food establishments which include grocery store delicatessens, bakeries, cafeterias, and restaurants to follow the food allergen code. Currently, all food businesses governed by the Food Safety Agency in the UK and the Food and Drug Administration in the USA are required to declare any food allergen in the products. Products under their jurisdiction include:
- Conventional foods
- Packaged foods
- Medical foods (for tube feedings and related cases)
- Infant formula
- Vitamins and dietary supplement
Food allergen labeling regulations apply to any food sold in packages labeled as "for individual sale". Included in the list of businesses required to declare food allergens are those that produce flavors, spices, and coloring agents. On the other hand, food handlers responsible for the production of fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables are not required to declare food allergens. Similarly, refined oil manufacturers are not required as well.
Essentially, all food businesses required to declare food allergens in their products would benefit from a food allergy chart around your operations facilities and can become a vital part of your HACCP food safety plan.
How to use a food allergy list template?
Most life-threatening food allergies are caused by only 8 allergens. You can use food allergy charts for both your team and your customers with food allergies. A food allergy list template consists of columns and rows to determine which food allergen is in your product across a list of allergens. Each product can have more than one food allergen, depending on its formulation.
You can pin it in your central kitchen wall so your team can see it any time or print it out for each team member's pocket for peeking. A food allergy list will help you remind the team which foods contain high-risk food ingredients and which ones must be well separated to avoid cross-contaminations.
As a food safety law, you are required to inform customers about food allergens in your products. For customers with food allergies, it's not the most common way to inform them, but you can add needed comments about allergens directly to the menu. You can also dedicate a section of your menu for this information. Alternatively, a food allergy chart template can be used for food allergen declaration of online menus and for your websites for advanced order taking.
Allergen awareness is a key to food safety
In addition to creating a food allergy chart, your business must also be keen on increasing allergen awareness among your employees. All members of your team must be acquainted with what food allergens are, their symptoms, significance, sources, and potential allergens to public health safety.
Below are some practices you can apply within your food safety team:
1. Add a clear advisory statement of allergens to each menu item. This is the most common way when your menu is not changing daily. This can also be very applicable to your website and social media online menu where allergen & nutrition information is usually requested.
2. Add a general advisory statement to your menu such as, "Customers can ask for advice about food allergens from the staff."
3. Add all allergen statements to your online menu and delivery apps.
4. Keep a food allergy chart where all your staff can see it. For example, kitchen doors, walls, etc.
5. Enroll employees in food safety training courses to orient them with food allergen concerns and proper food handling.
6. Follow legal standards on declaring food allergens.
When do I need an allergen information update?
Updating your food allergy chart can be a bit troublesome especially for food service establishments that change their menus seasonally or even every day. There will always be certain times when your food allergy chart must be revised.
It's always important to update your food allergy chart when you:
1. When you change your menu or make additional menus. Every time you change your menu, check all the ingredients and fill the food allergy chart with a new menu item.
2. Use a new supplier. Every time you use a new supplier, check all the ingredients you order, ask for product specifications when needed and update your food allergy chart according to the menu.
3. Substitute a food ingredient in your recipe.
4. When you have a new product.
Get yourself a flexible food allergy chart by trying out our free food safety template hub at FoodDocs. Edit, customize, download, and print at your most convenient time. Updating your food allergy chart will always be easy using our services.
Food allergy chart as HACCP compliance requirement
Your food safety documents, together with the food allergy chart have to be ready for the audit at any time. Under food safety regulations, inspections can be unannounced or announced. Proper food allergen declaration is a big factor to satisfy these audits.
Up-to-date documentation is one of the first signs for authorities that your facility takes food safety seriously and is ready for the food safety inspection. In addition to a food allergy chart, you can also provide an informational food allergen poster. Our food allergy poster contains information on the big 8 allergens.
A comprehensive and well-rounded HACCP food safety plan is expected to contain a food allergy chart together with hazard analysis and control measures for allergens. Similarly, monitoring forms and corrective actions that are related to allergen issues are vital components of a HACCP plan.
Not sure where to start with your food allergy documents? Don't have enough time? FoodDocs platform can direct you through the HACCP process and get your food allergy chart done in no time so you can focus on what you need to – managing your business.
Create your own free food allergy chart
New players and old-time food business owners alike, knowing a better way to build your own food allergy chart saves you so much time from planning. At FoodDocs, we offer you an array of free food safety templates for monitoring and verification forms and other guidance documents. All of our templates are customizable to fit your business operations and are free for downloading and printing for your convenience.
This template hub is not the only document we can help you with. In fact, you can let us help you make your entire HACCP plan in or build your own Food Safety Management System in just 1 hour. Our HACCP plan builder is a machine-learned software that has the expertise of a food safety specialist and consultant and takes into account the specific food legislations in your country.
Let our HACCP builder analyze your business operations by answering a few questions where we will base all of our suggestions and analysis. Never worry about identifying potential hazards in food and critical control points of your food operations because we can do that for you.
Save so much more time and money by letting us help you build your food safety plan.
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