Allergen Sanitation in the Food Industry: A Systematic Industrial Scale Approach To Reduce Hazelnut Cross-Contamination of Cookies

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Recently, we investigated the impact of shared equipment on cross-contamination of cookies at a pilot plant scale. Based on those findings, this study investigated the extent and subsequent sanitation of hazelnut cross-contamination (HNCC) of cookies at the industrial scale. Similarly, a product change from cookies with hazelnut ingredient to cookies without hazelnut was performed on standard equipment. HNCC in the hazelnut-free follow-up product was quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for each production device and the applied cleaning procedure. All experiments were repeated in duplicate. The highest HNCC was found in concordance with previous studies after mere mechanical scraping: more than 1,000 mg of hazelnut protein per kg was quantified in the follow-up product after processing by a cookie machine. Additional cleaning with hot water decreased the HNCC irrespective of the processing device to levels at or below 1 mg of hazelnut protein per kg. Furthermore, raw materials for cookie production were monitored over a period of 24 months for unwanted preloads of hazelnut and peanut: hazelnut was quantified in 16% of the investigated raw materials as being between 0.26 and 90 mg/kg. Further critical control points at the industrial scale, where cross-contamination might occur, were identified but did not display noteworthy sources of cross-contamination. In conclusion, the quantitative monitoring of the cleaning efficiency at the industrial scale confirmed the procedure of manual scraping plus wet cleaning as a qualified sanitation procedure to effectively reduce the hazelnut protein cross-contamination down to a level at which severe hazelnut-related allergic reactions are unlikely to occur.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Allergology, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Paul-Ehrlich-Strasse 51-59, 63225 Langen, Germany 2: Henry Lambertz GmbH & Co. KG, Würselen, Germany 3: Wilhelm Gruyters GmbH & Co. KG, Krefeld, Germany 4: Griesson-de Beukelaer GmbH & Co. KG, Polch, Germany 5: Bahlsen GmbH & Co. KG, Hannover, Germany 6: Lebensmittelchemisches Institut (LCI) des Bundesverbandes der Deutschen Süßwarenindustrie e.V., Cologne, Germany

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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