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Leading Allergen Expert Joseph Baumert, Ph.D., to Headline AMIF Allergen Control Workshop

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Joseph Baumert, Ph.D., assistant professor, Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, University of Nebraska Lincoln, will play a prominent role at this year’s AMIF Allergen Control Workshop December 7-8, 2011, at the Hilton Rosemont in Chicago, Illinois.

Baumert’s research interests include the examination of the digestive stability of major food allergens and determining how digestion-resistant allergens may impact allergic sensitization to foods; the determination of minimal eliciting doses for specific food allergens; the examination of processing effects on food allergens; and the development and improvement of immunochemical methods for detection of allergenic food proteins. 

The AMI Foundation recently talked with Baumert about the increased focus on allergen control, the challenges the industry must overcome and what he hopes to impart to attendees of the workshop.


AMIF: Have you ever seen the level of attention that is currently being focused on allergen control? Why the increased interest?

Baumert: There have been increased interest in food allergens and allergen control certainly by regulatory agencies in the U.S. this past year due in part to new legislation that has be enacted. The Food Safety Modernization Act which will be enforced by FDA in July of 2012 specifically addresses food allergens as one of the key areas for improvement of food safety.  With this Act, I think we will see more emphasis on the need for validation documentation to ensure that individual food companies' allergen control programs are adequate for managing allergens in areas where cross-contact may occur.  

In the same regard, the USDA FSIS has been undergoing an extensive label review process with individual companies to ensure that no undeclared food allergens are present in finished product. Through this review process, a number of labeling issues have been identified which has lead to an increased number of recalls due to undeclared allergens this year.  I think that we will continue to see a regulatory interest in food allergens over the next few years so food industry of course will need to ensure that all of the proper steps are taken to manage food allergens in their facilities.

AMIF: What are the greatest challenges for the meat and poultry industry in regards to allergen control?

Baumert: One of the main concerns that I think the meat and poultry industry needs to address in regards to allergen control is managing and auditing their suppliers to ensure undeclared allergens are not being introduced into their facilities without their knowledge and approval.  Many of the recalls in recent due to undeclared allergens have been a result of undeclared allergens coming into the facilities in raw ingredients from suppliers or improper notification of a formulation change by the supplier.  Setting up a proper control plan and supplier auditing system should be a top priority for the meat and poultry industry.  

I think the other issue that needs to be addressed is validation of the removal of allergens during the cleaning process.  I think that we will see increased requests from regulatory agencies and third party auditors to review validation documents to ensure that the cleaning process adequately removes food allergens to ensure no cross-contamination can occur.  

AMIF: What will you be addressing at the Allergen workshop? What do you hope to impart to attendees?

Baumert: I will be addressing some of the basics of food allergies, the mechanisms of reaction, and what are the main food allergens of concern for the food industry.  I will also focus much of my discussion on utilization of the proper detection methods for validation of the removal of allergenic residues during the cleaning process.  There are many methods that claim that they detect allergens but are they all created equal, are they all equally sensitive, and which methods provide the best analytical data needed for validation?

This workshop is being cosponsored by the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For more information and to register, go to http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/d/sp/i/72480/pid/72480.



The American Meat Institute Foundation is a non-profit research, education and information foundation established by the American Meat Institute to study ways the meat and poultry industry can produce better, safer products and operate more efficiently.

 AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Together, AMI’s members produce 95 percent of the beef, pork, lamb and veal products and 70 percent of the turkey products in the United States. The Institute provides legislative, regulatory, public relations, technical, scientific and educational services to the meat and poultry packing and processing industry.


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