FORT WAYNE, IND.— At Ellison Bakery, food safety and quality control remain the upmost priority for the cookie, cookie crunches and inclusions manufacturer. Dan Malovany, Baking & Snack’s editorial director, recently asked Matthew Barton, Ellison’s quality manager, about best practices for managing allergen control.

Dan Malovany: How do you schedule allergens and nonallergens that run on the same line?

Matthew Barton: We aim to schedule products that contain the same allergens together in sequence or from those that do not contain allergens into those that do.

How have allergen-cleaning procedures advanced over the past 10 years?

Mr. Barton: In the past, we did not have all the verification and validation steps we have in place now. Today we rely on proper scheduling, material segregation, dedicated utensils and equipment, thorough changeover sanitation standard operating procedures, pre-operational inspections and sign-offs with verification of cleaning with protein, and allergen-specific swab tests on contact equipment by the quality assurance department.

After cleaning, what are the most effective tests/processes for ensuring there is no residual allergen material?

Mr. Barton: We test multiple random contact surfaces with specific tests for allergens previously run to ensure no residual material remains.

What should bakers ask when reviewing labels for allergen-free products?

Mr. Barton: What are the scheduling practices? What controls are in place to ensure the line is cleaned prior to starting a new product? How often is the allergen program validated? And what is the opportunity for cross contact within the plant from other materials, environment or personnel traffic?