Consumers around the world enjoy a consistently high-quality product in California Almonds. The industry’s quality control programs have played a key role in helping almonds to become a “Nut of Choice.” Consumers expect safe food, and this section will provide tips and resources to help maintain and exceed those consumer expectations.

ALLERGEN CONTROL

ALLERGEN CONTROL

Minimizing cross contamination of allergens is an important part of overall food safety and quality. Tree nuts are among the eight most allergenic foods responsible for 90% of food allergies.

Even if an individual is not allergic to almonds, he or she may be allergic to other types of nuts. Therefore, it is very important for handlers to ensure that no other nuts — even in small amounts — are processed with or come in contact with almonds. Whenever possible, other nuts should not be processed in almond plants or with almond-processing equipment unless specific safeguards are in place to prevent cross contamination. For a complete guide to controlling allergens, review the Good Manufacturing Practices Manual’s section on allergens.

Food allergies involve an abnormal response of the immune system to naturally occurring proteins in certain foods that most individuals can eat safely. Due to numerous consumer complaints, a new food labeling law was established in 2006 — the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA).

Under FALCPA, food labels are required to clearly state if the food contains a “major food allergen,” which is identified as any ingredient that contains a protein derived from these eight foods: milk; eggs; fish; crustacean shellfish; tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pecans; peanuts; wheat; and soybeans.

Food manufacturers must comply with the law by identifying in plain English on their product labels the food source of any ingredient that is, or contains, protein from those eight foods listed above. FALCPA also requires manufacturers to identify the type of tree nut.

Manufacturers are also responsible for ensuring that food is not misrepresented or misbranded as a result of the presence of undeclared allergens. Handlers and manufacturers must be sure that allergens are not added intentionally to food, but not declared on the label; or may be unintentionally introduced into a food product and consequently not declared on the label. This introduction may be caused by the use of common equipment or other manufacturing processes. Manufacturers must identify and implement controls to prevent potential allergen cross-contact.