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Any improper food processing controls like missing the allergens on the food labels or the cross-contamination among the food ingredients during the production stages will highly possibly result in the cases of food allergy or even turn to be the fatal conditions.

Caramel Chocolate

WHAT ARE FOOD ALLERGENS?

Food allergens are substances that can cause allergic reactions among sensitive individuals. Any improper food processing controls like missing the allergens on the food labels or the cross-contamination among the food ingredients during the production stages will highly possibly result in the cases of food allergy. In some extreme food allergic incidents, food allergens can cause severe irritating reactions, which may even turn to be the fatal conditions for some individuals.

In many cases, the strict avoidance of food allergens is therefore crucial to people, who easily suffer from food allergies. However, how can consumers avoid the food allergic items without a well-listed food label on the food packaging?

REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS

Food allergen labelling requirements may vary from market to market. In Hong Kong, it is mandatory under the Chapter 132W of the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) Regulations to state the eight common food allergens over the packaging labels if used. These eight common food allergens under the regulations include gluten-contained cereals, shellfish, fish, eggs, peanuts, soybeans, milk, tree nuts and their products, and sulphite in a concentration of 10 parts per million (mg/kg). Once the food allergens have been well-listed on the food labels over the packaging, consumers are able to decide what they should take or avoid based on the set of allergen information given.

FOOD RECALLS DUE TO UNDECLARED ALLERGENS ON FOOD LABELS

As of December 2016, 34 cases out of 122 food recalls, occupying roughly 28%, happened in the USA due to the undeclared allergens found in the report issued by United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. Meanwhile, 450 food recalls related to the undeclared allergens were also identified in Hong Kong by the Centre of Food Safety (CFS) in 2016. In mid-May 2017, a food recall was initiated by the CFS in Hong Kong for the undeclared milk allergen found in the imported and pre-packaged coconut cream powder from Indonesia.

HOW TO KNOW THE PRESENCE OF ALLERGENS IN FOOD/FOOD INGREDIENTS?

SGS stays at the forefront for food safety and quality by offering food allergen testing services via the techniques, such as Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)* and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) †, to identify the presence of food allergens in food/food ingredients. We are also willing to assist the food industry practitioners in understanding food allergens, monitoring product ingredients, avoiding any unwanted food cross-contamination and meeting food labeling requirements to protect consumers from severe food allergies through our services.

* ELISA principles – Detection of the allergenic protein molecules by binding to specific antibodies. It can be measured by the colour change after a series of enzyme-linked reactions.
† PCR principles – Detection of DNA of food allergens


CONTACT US

Food Testing Services
t: +852 2765 3524 / 2204 8369
e: hk.food.service@sgs.com

Food Audit & Certification Services
t: +852 2765 3620
e: hk.cbe@sgs.com

Food Management Training Services
t: +852 3543 7900
e: hk.academy@sgs.com

About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.