Top food businesses spill the beans to show how they handle allergens in the workplace
Published: Monday, 24 April, 2023
Stroud District Council Food Safety Officers are marking Allergy Awareness Week by sharing the practices of some of the food businesses with the highest safety ratings in the Stroud district.
Officers inspecting food businesses have highlighted the best allergen practices of those that have particularly high standards.
We will be sharing the case studies throughout the week on Stroud District Council’s social media channels.
The first business to be featured is Wholly Gelato in Elmore. It has its own herd of cows and produces milk for use in gelato and milkshakes as well as a milk vending machine (The Milkbot) on site.
Wholly Gelato’s top 10 allergen controls
- Behind the scenes in the Wholly Gelato manufacturing unit there’s a very cautious dry store system in place. All dry store ingredients are stored in sealed and labelled containers. Those that do not contain allergens are stored at the top of the racking and all allergenic ingredients are stored in designated areas at the base. There are also designated gluten and nut areas. This system ensures clear separation between allergenic ingredients and minimises the risk of allergenic cross-contamination.
- When manufacturing the Gelato, any products containing allergens are always made last. For example, an allergen free sorbet would be the first run of the day and a gelato containing nuts would be the last production or only run of the day. The manufacturing premises is extensively cleaned between production runs to minimise any risk of allergenic cross-contamination.
- Staff have undertaken the Food Standards Agency’s free-of-charge online allergen training course. The interactive training has been developed for local authorities' enforcement officers, however, it can also be undertaken by food industry organisations and businesses, consumers and others who would like to learn more about food allergies and how to handle allergens safely. Upon successful completion a certificate can also be downloaded and printed to evidence the training.
- Clear signage is in place that asks customers to speak to a member of staff if they have an allergy.
- A full list of allergens is provided to staff each day for the flavours they will be serving. An allergy matrix is also in place for their full range of products. This information is also provided to Wholly Gelato’s wholesale customers.
- Each gelato in the retail hatch has its own individual scoops which stay in the gelato and do not get mixed.
- Ice creams that do contain allergenic ingredients in the onsite counter are stored at the side of the freezer away from other products, within easy reach of the server. This avoids ice cream containing allergenic ingredients being dropped into other products. Nevertheless, the team at Wholly Gelato are aware this system is not fool proof and always advise customers with allergies that there may be cross-contamination risks in the counter due to the open products and constant scooping. As an added precaution there are pre-packaged takeaway pots available in the freezer as an alternative.
- The counter also sells milkshakes made with the gelato. The milk shake blender has two mixing spindles, so to avoid the risks of allergenic cross contamination the decision has been made to only make two flavours each day.
- As the bottles of milkshake syrups used are set in optics, they cannot be moved to allow customers to check for allergens. So clear signage is provided in the form of a matrix.
- The takeaway tubs all have full PPDS (pre-packaged for direct sale) labelling. Along with a full list of ingredients the 14 allergens must be emphasised on this list according to food law. This can be done using bold type, CAPITAL LETTERS, contrasting colours or through underlining. In addition, the allergen itself must be very clear. Wholly Gelato lists hazelnuts as “Hazelnut (Tree nuts)” on the product ingredient list. This is a good example of how the allergen itself is bracketed and highlighted.
Cllr Chloe Turner, chair of Stroud District Council Environment Committee said: “Food hygiene and safety is incredibly important. Our lives are in the hands of the people who prepare and serve our food.
Thank you to all the businesses that work hard to ensure their allergen awareness and training is up-to-date and keep their customers safe, and to our Food Hygiene Officers for inspecting them so thoroughly.”
Cllr Robin Drury-Layfield, vice chair added:
“Stroud District Council’s Council Plan prioritises Economy, Recovery and Regeneration, supporting thriving and resilient local economy.
“We champion local businesses of all types and sizes that lead on environmental and social good practice and support them to grow, keeping wealth in the district, strengthening local supply chains, and offering rewarding local jobs.”
There are approximately 1,200 food businesses in the Stroud district including factories, takeaways, and restaurants.
SDC’s Food Safety Officers are responsible for checking hygiene and safety standards, and use the Food Standards Agency food hygiene rating scheme, with five being the highest award.
They also work closely with Trading Standards Officers.
More information about allergen safety is available on the Food Standards Agency website.
The rating of every food business in the district is also listed on the website. Wholly Gelato holds a top rating of five.
Read more about the work of SDC’s Food Safety Officers here.