September 26, 2023

FORT COLLINS, COLO. — MenuTrinfo, a meals security coaching and auditing firm, has developed an allergen-free certification course of and seal to help the greater than 33 million customers with life-threatening meals allergic reactions in the US. The corporate’s program, trademarked as Licensed Free From (CFF), serves as a third-party analysis for producers to confirm merchandise don’t include any or the entire 9 main allergens.

“After we developed the Licensed Free From program, the objective was to create a seal that buyers might hunt down and know that they have been getting one thing suitable for eating,” stated Claire Peacock, chief working officer at MenuTrinfo, in a July 27 webinar.

CFF started in 2017 as an allergen verification service for foodservice suppliers in college eating halls however shortly grew to embody client packaged items. Now, the certification course of holds an ISO 17065 accreditation from the American Nationwide Stands Institute (ANSI) Nationwide Accreditation Board, and the CFF seal could also be discovered on over 400 stock-keeping models throughout the nation.

“The CFF seal delivers confidence to the buyer by means of our internationally accredited requirements and scheme certification,” stated Betsy Craig, president and chief govt officer of MenuTrinfo. “We consider it’s time to deal with the meals allergic neighborhood with the identical transparency, respect and resolution as we do those who want a gluten-free possibility.”

CFF_seal_nobg-lead.pngThe Licensed Free From packaging seal. Photograph: MenuTrinfo

The audit program, which checks for potential allergens from ingredient sourcing to packaging and storage, was designed partly because of the lack of clear laws from the Meals and Drug Administration surrounding allergen labeling. Whereas firms are required by legislation to determine any main allergen components and their sources, producers are at the moment in a position to embody unverified smooth claims, akin to “dairy-free” or “made in a peanut-free facility,” which depart customers having to depend on the on the corporate’s phrase, in response to Ms. Peacock.

One other concern comes from producers utilizing precautionary labeling to keep away from going through potential legal responsibility or a recall for undeclared allergens, the No. 1 motive for meals recollects in 2022, which accounted for simply over 40% of circumstances. The statements included on this voluntary labeling observe, like “might include” or “produced in a facility with,” usually are not verified for accuracy by the FDA.

With the CFF seal, the corporate is aiming for its certification to remove allergen labeling confusion and turn into a transparent indicator for customers.

“All of this actually boils all the way down to bettering buyer confidence relating to allergen-free claims,” Ms. Peacock stated.

Regulators’ consideration on allergens is rising, nonetheless, with the FDA formally naming sesame because the ninth main allergen in January 2023. The coverage change resulted in producers needing to take new steps to forestall sesame cross-contamination, and sesame was integrated into CFF’s present certification course of.

The FDA additionally launched new potential tips regarding allergen procedures and labeling on Might 27 of this 12 months.

“The FDA got here out with a brand new draft compliance coverage information on allergen labeling and prevention of cross contact, and so they’re getting public remark,” stated Mike Flot, onsite shopper relations specialist at MenuTrinfo. “They’re specializing in it now.”