How many times have you had to look at the back of a package and scour the ingredient list and any potential allergen “warnings” ?
If you’re a parent of a child who has any food allergy, or you have one yourself, you’ve been here countless times, worrying about cross contact and seeking out products you can trust. At Hershey, we get that because we’re parents too. We aren’t just upholding a company policy; it’s a very personal commitment to keep everyone who comes in contact with our products knowledgeable and safe.
Hershey’s robust allergen control practices cover the life cycle of every product, so you can trust you always get what you expect with every Hershey product. Here’s a brief look at some of the steps and processes we implement to keep our consumers informed and safe.
There are many policies we follow to make sure we are doing our best and staying up to date with the latest allergen control procedures.
Our allergen program addresses the handling of allergens during manufacturing, the communication of allergen information to consumers on product labels, and all aspects in between. This means we’re not only focused on how allergens are managed within our facilities but also during transportation, at our ingredient suppliers and all stages of the supply chain.
To stay on top of allergen guidelines, we actively work with consumer allergen advocacy organizations, industry partners, and government agencies. Did you know there are different regulated allergens around the world? As a global company, Hershey must be aware of what those allergens are and where products are intended to be sold.
Obviously, with so many products and ingredients, we have to implement very strict and detailed plans for our facilities. Here’s what it’s like to be on site.
Each Hershey facility conducts a hazard analysis for every line/process and has a sitespecific allergen control plan that accounts for the different aspects of each facility, with steps to prevent allergen cross contact. We evaluate everything during the manufacturing process from storage, segregated manufacturing areas, color coding of utensils/bins, transport of materials, traffic patterns and more so that we can effectively manage allergens and prevent cross contact.
When switching from an allergen containing product to a nonallergen containing product (or a different allergen), the equipment on the line is disassembled and undergoes an extensive cleaning using a validated procedure. Depending on the size and complexity of the line and where the allergen(s) are added, this can take a significant amount of time. Once cleaned, each piece of equipment/part of the line is visually inspected, and then we also test various locations on the line. After everything is cleaned and signed off, the line is reassembled for production of the next product.
You may have just read more about facilities and allergy procedures than you ever wanted. And when you’re at the grocery store, all you want to know is if this product falls within your comfort level. Make sure you know what you’re reading and what you should be asking for.
It’s the easiest way to check, right? Here’s the thing about those labels; the “Contains” statement is not mandatory. If all of the ingredients are called out by their common name within the list of ingredients, the label does not have to include a “Contains” statement. We understand that the “Contains” statement is helpful and are currently in a transition of adding this to all of our products. If you do not see a Contains statement on pack, please continue to read the entire list of ingredients.
You are probably aware that these statements are voluntary. As a company, we have strict procedures in place to prevent crossover of allergens into other products that do not contain the allergen. In instances where we have a concern about possible cross contact of an allergen, we will include precautionary allergen labeling, such as "Manufactured on the same equipment that processes...".
Even though allergen management is extremely important to us and there are many controls in place to prevent cross contact, we understand that you may still have questions and/or want more information about a product. We encourage those of you with food allergies to arm yourselves with the knowledge of how your products are made. Understanding the process and asking more questions from the companies themselves can help you feel more confident in the products you buy for you and your family.
We’re committed to maintaining our values of excellence and integrity — always working to the highest standards of product safety and championing transparency. So, you can always count on us to bring you delicious products you love and trust. Learn more about The Hershey Company’s efforts towards transparency.