Allergens and Veganuary: Livin’ on the veg
January 18, 2019
It’s January. We’ve all probably gained a stone from Christmas and have gone from eating pigs in blankets to physically being a pig in blanket.
Diets have started, gym memberships have been activated and for some, a hardcore pledge to not eat or use any animal products for a whole month is underway – Veganuary.
That’s right, for a whole month some people are signing up to becoming vegan – whether that’s for a an ethical reason or just to follow the latest hashtag, we’re not quite sure, but what we do know is that it is more popular this year than ever before.
Aside from those taking part through freedom of choice, many adopt a vegan lifestyle due to health reasons too – especially with regards to allergies and intolerances to dairy and meat.
We know what you’re thinking – how can you be allergic to meat? Well actually, although not the most common allergy – some people have allergic reactions to meat such as pork and beef.
As a result of this, food and drink businesses, now more than ever, must ensure complete transparency in their menus and offerings, as eagle-eyed customers demand to know more about what’s in their food and drink – whether that is for ethical or allergy reasons.
80% of respondents to our research (managers of food and drink supply chains), said that customers are requesting more allergen information than ever before, resulting in increasing pressure to openly provide ingredients, nutritional data and any allergen information about their products.
To add to this, when 20% of respondents admit that they are not confident they could trace allergens in their offerings back to the source – the steaks could be high, and quite frankly, the results of this could be tragic.
Identifying allergens (and non-vegan friendly) ingredients in products can be an absolute nightmare for businesses – especially if their menus are large – which they can be when they’re vegan –we’ve all seen the variety of vegan curries, desserts, pizzas and burgers that are now available!
Many are turning to their supply chains to obtain this information before they can communicate it to their customers; a difficult and critical task, especially when someone’s (and an animal’s) life could potentially be at risk.
Back to the research – over half (52%) of respondents said that they collect product specifications from their suppliers in order to gather vital allergen information.
When done manually, this can be a difficult and onerous task, which entails sifting through and checking copious amounts of paperwork and spreadsheets; not to mention the sharing process to ensure all other stakeholders are aware too.
Thankfully, specialist supplier information management (SIM) software exists to alleviate some of these problems.
In fact, some systems, such as ARCUS® SIM, feature enhanced functionality to gather deeper levels of supplier data at a product, manufacturing site and audit level.
ARCUS® SIM’s Product Information Management plug-in, or PIM for short, automates the process for collecting really detailed bits of information about your supplier’s products – on an allergen or even a vegan level. This is done through tailored workflows which can be shared between all departments (procurement and technical teams, we’re looking at you here!) and is used to identify stuff like allergens and meat derivatives through nutritional data and ingredients.
The data collected in this automated process is easily visible and can be fed into third-party software such as recipe management systems, which makes life even easier. Having all this data to hand allows users to have complete control over allergens in their supply chain.
As well as this, the Manufacturing Site Level plug-in allows users to ask specific questions to their suppliers about – you guessed it – their manufacturing sites. This can be useful when gathering information about potential allergen and animal-product presences and risks. Another level of transparency and information that can be used to protect your company brand. Can it get any better?
Well hold onto your hat – it can.
The Site Audit plug-in is yet ANOTHER way that you can further reduce allergen (and other) risks in your supply chain. This enables users to upload very specific audit information about their supplier’s sites, and it sits nicely with the complete SIM record. Generic audit data, along with conformities and non-conformities can be uploaded. This can also include the presence of animal derivatives and/or meat if these are the risks you want to avoid or need to provide if your auditor visits. Again, this information is stored centrally and is easily accessible, and enables a better risk assessment of your suppliers.
As our plug-ins are all pretty new and there is quite a lot to take in, we decided the best way to tell you more about them was through the power of video – and you can see them here.
In short – effective supplier information management systems can be a massive help to food and drink businesses who wish to manage and track risks in the supply chain – such as allergens. The added functionality of ARCUS® SIM provides users with more access to important information that can protect company brand and reputation, as well as appeal to customers.