Keeping your facility free of cross contact with allergens means less chance of recalls, leading to very loyal customers.
Almonds are a great ingredient in countless dishes, desserts and confections. Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the unlucky 1% that are allergic! Cross contact from almonds can have serious repercussions for these individuals, so they are going to be carefully scrutinizing ingredient labels, and will be following company recalls for almond contamination.
Did You Know?
- The almond tree is actually a member of the rose family. Guess who else is related? Plums, cherries and peaches! And apricots, of course. Almond fruit isn’t edible. It’s just a package for the seed, which is its commonality with the pits of these other delicious fruits.
- Although the almond tree is native to western Asia and North Africa, California is the world’s largest producer, where the trees occupy more area than any other crop (except grapes).
- Almond flowers are pollinated by bees in order to fruit. There are more Almond trees than the local bees can pollinate in California, so bees from all over the country are brought to California in the spring.
- Confectioners, particularly those making chocolate candies, use about 40% of almond production worldwide.
- Almond oil is also used in personal care products.
- Almonds are commonly used in ethnic cuisines across Asia. Depending on availability and cost, almonds may be used as a substitute in some recipes. As always, know your sources!
Given how widespread almonds are, these nuts are often an issue in a manufacturer’s food safety plan. After all, almonds are also a member of the Big 8 family of allergens: tree nuts. Did you know that Tree Nuts are one of the most potent groups of allergenic foods?
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires that ingredients are specified. Manufacturers must list the type of tree nut (eg almonds, pecans, walnuts) in their labeling. This is especially important because not all people with nut allergies are allergic to all nuts.
Possible sources of Cross Contact
- Raw Materials and Supply Chain
- Processing Aids, Storage and Shared Equipment
Watch for hidden, or obscure, language that indicates the use of almond as an ingredient:
- Prunus amygdalus amara (bitter almond).
- Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond).
It’s a lot to keep track of, but with careful planning it certainly isn’t insurmountable. Knowing your sources, having confidence in your team, and testing at all points in your manufacturing process will keep you on track to lower the risk of cross contact.
Who is affected?
It’s estimated that an allergy to tree nuts affects about 1.1% of the general population in the United States. It is likely that Tree Nut allergies will last a lifetime. Fewer than 10% of children outgrow it, compared to 20% outgrowing a peanut allergy. A study conducted by the University of Michigan Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has reported that cross reactivity between nuts may not affect as many individuals as originally thought, although some people still do react negatively to several varieties of tree nuts.
What are typical symptoms of an Almond allergy?
Since adverse reactions to Tree Nuts can be triggered by minimal amounts of the food (sometimes even by skin contact or inhalation), strict avoidance is imperative. Cross contamination is the biggest issue when it comes to challenges in manufacturing.
- Abdominal pain, cramps, nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, skin or any other area
- Nasal congestion or a runny nose
- Shortness of breath
AlerTox Sticks kits are specially designed to help food manufacturers monitor levels of common allergenic proteins at every step of production and in a variety of matrices. As with all of our tests, the kits are easy to use, accurate, and robust.
AlerTox Sticks Almond detects one of the main almond allergens: a specific fragment of prunin/amandin protein (legumin-like 11S seed storage protein, allergen Pru du 6).
AlerTox Sticks Almond does NOT detect the antigens of cereals, legumes and other nuts, including walnut, pecan, peanut, hazelnut, cashew, macadamia, Brazil nut and coconut.
PLEASE NOTE: the test shows considerable cross-reactivity in pit extracts of the fruits of Prunus and related genuses: peach, plum and apricot. If these pits are crushed during industrial processing of fruit masses (for example, in production of jam), the resulting material may show false positivity with AlerTox Sticks Almond.