Very small amounts of some allergens, such as nuts, can cause adverse reactions, including potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. Therefore, thorough cleaning that is effective in reducing the risks of allergen cross-contamination should be used.
Particular food materials (for example powders) present significant cleaning problems and any relevant industry guidance, where this has been developed, should be followed. Adequate procedures must be in place for cleaning both production and packaging machinery. Where adequate cleaning is not possible, then the risk of allergen cross-contamination should be assessed and advisory labelling used, if appropriate.
Where adherence to a cleaning regime is part of a separation system, it should be validated as 'fit for purpose' and compliance should be monitored.
Cleaning practices that are satisfactory for hygiene purposes may not be adequate for removing some allergens and their validity for such a purpose should be assessed (for example via residue/environmental swab testing). Equipment may need to be dismantled and manually cleaned to ensure hard to clean areas are free from allergen residues.
Compressed air cleaning
Care is needed to ensure that the cleaning of one line does not contaminate another (using compressed air cleaning, for example), or an area that has already been cleaned (by cleaning dry mix areas from the top down).
On the spot cleaning for spillages
Any spillages that occur during production, storage and transportation should be cleaned up immediately to ensure that there is no subsequent allergen cross-contamination. Where known allergen contamination has occurred, the contaminated material should be labelled and physically moved away from the non-contaminated ingredients and work-in-progress.
Equipment might need to be dismantled and manually cleaned to ensure hard to reach areas are free from allergen residues. At this point, consideration should be given to maintenance activities, such as the use of dedicated tools or adequate cleaning procedures where tools are not dedicated.