MANAGING NUT ALLERGY Geest is keeping nuts under lock and key at its delicatessen plant in Spalding, Lincolnshire, to protect potential victims of anaphylaxis. In factories producing a mix of products, some with nuts and some without, the strictest clean-down and segregation practices are necessary. No test for nut contamination can be 100% reliable but many firms have introduced impeccable regimes to minimise risk. Geest's Spalding plant is one of the best-in-class when it comes to product controls. Geest Prepared Foods has identified the best way to balance the realities of manufacturing with the risk to sufferers of anaphylaxis. From the goods inwards stage, nut products are handled with extreme care. Precautions include: l Working with raw material suppliers to ensure they are aware of the nut issue and have controls in place. l Segregated storage of raw materials which contain nuts. l Procedures to prevent cross-contamination ­ for example, the use of colour coded scoops, paddles, aprons, gloves, tubs and identification labels to denote nut-only status. l Special procedures in the case of nut spillage. Factory manager Kamal Dhesi says training is vital: "We've tried to personalise it, to give the workforce an understanding of why they are doing things, not just that they are part of the procedure. We explain issues that the consumer might face." David Reding, the founder of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, visited the Geest factory with Angela Fritz, whose son is a sufferer. They came away with a positive impression. Angela concluded: "I wouldn't have a problem with my son eating any of the products that we have seen, the utmost is done to prevent any cross contamination with nut products. I am stunned by the lengths Geest has gone to." What is anaphylaxis? Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction in which the throat closes, blood pressure falls, and the patient rapidly loses consciousness. The whole body is affected, usually within minutes of exposure to the allergen, but sometimes after hours. Causes include food, insect stings and drugs. Nuts can cause some of the most extreme reactions, hence the high priority given to the issue. Estimates suggest one in 250 children is severely allergic to peanuts. {{Z SUPPLEMENTS }}