The importance of an effective cleaning and sanitation program in managing microbial safety and quality has been recognized since dairy products were first produced. As shelflife is extended, diligent application of cleaning and sanitation principles is increasingly important. Consumer demand for new products that are processed on dairy lines, such as soy beverages and fruit juices, has added a new level of complexity and a new hazard that needs to be managed - that is, food allergens.
An estimated 11 million Americans have food allergies, including 4-8% of children and 1-2% of adults. Food allergic reactions are estimated to cause 29,000 emergency room visits and 150-200 deaths per year. No processor wants their product to be included in these statistics. An understanding of the foods that cause allergic reactions, controls that can reduce risk, and tools that can verify adequate control can reduce the risk that dairy processors face when they produce products that contain a variety of allergens.