Allergen related incidents continue to be one of the most common causes of food recalls. These incidents are often linked to lack of awareness around allergens as well as inadequate implementation of controls in the production, labelling and packaging of food products.

RSSL’s food allergen consultants are internationally recognised for the support they provide the food industry, from ingredient suppliers to manufacturers, food service and retailers. Through their links to industry committees and scientific panels, they regularly use their expertise to guide and inform the standards that are recognised as industry best practice.

Our highly qualified consultants can visit your site, to provide you with relevant and tailored advice that meets your needs.

We can support you with:

  • Independent expert allergen risk analysis – including risk assessment, risk management and risk communication
  • Providing expert opinions in the event of allergen related incidents, recalls and withdrawals
  • A comprehensive range of site-based practical allergen training, covering risk assessment, validation of controls and analytical testing programmes
  • Compliance requirements of standards and customer Codes of Practice
  • Meeting the new regulatory changes set out in Natasha’s Law around allergen information for foods sold pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS)

For updates and discussions, please join our LinkedIn Group - Allergens in a Nutshell

Meet our food allergen consultants

Simon Flanagan

Simon - Allergens

Simon is Senior Consultant within RSSL's Food Safety and Quality team.

Simon is an internationally acclaimed Technical Consultant specialising in the field of food allergens. He is a biochemist by training and gained experience of working in a variety of sectors within the food industry before joining RSSL in 2002. In his current role Simon has worked with global blue-chip manufacturers, retailers and ingredient suppliers, as well as manufacturers of specialist dietary products.

Simon has been involved in a broad scope of projects, from futureproofing corporate allergen policy through to independent expert site risk assessment and training programs.

Simon is affiliated with numerous professional bodies, industry groups and technical committees (ILSI Europe, FDF, BRC, EFSA, FSA) and has published several articles in peer reviewed journals.  He also edited the ‘Handbook of Food Allergen Detection and Control’. He was presented with a technical leadership award in 2014 for contributions to food safety and a SOFHT industry award for the development of RSSL’s practical allergen workshops. He was also awarded ‘Food and Drink Scientist of the Year’ at the FDF awards in 2018.

Simon was the first to develop a methodology for quantitative allergen risk assessment, which is becoming widely accepted as industry best practice. This methodology was adopted by Food and Drink Europe in their 2013 allergen management standard.  This approach to risk assessment is the foundation of RSSL's allergen consultancy service and training courses.

Connect with Simon Flanagan on LinkedIn

Barbara Hirst

Barbara Hirst

Barbara is a Food Safety and Quality Consultant at RSSL where she has worked since 1998. In this role, she partners with customers and advises them on all aspects of allergen management, from risk assessment through to validation of controls.

She provides support to customers from a wide range of food manufacturing and food service backgrounds.

She was the principal investigator for the FSA funded project “Survey of Allergen Advisory Labelling and Allergen Content of UK retail pre-packed processed foods” FS241038 (T07067) which was carried out between 2012 and 2014. This was part of her previous role as manager of RSSL’s DNA & Protein laboratory, where she was responsible for the analytical testing for allergens, meat and fish speciation and other molecular biology services. 

Barbara provided extensive support to the food industry during both the horse meat issue and the alleged contamination of spices with nuts. Using her scientific and technical knowledge, Barbara has advised regulators and industry on best practice approaches to sampling, testing and validation of control measures. SOFHT recognised Barbara for her services to industry during the horse meat crisis, and they awarded her the ‘Best Technologist of the Year’ in 2013.

Her extensive analytical and industry experience enable her to partner with customers to understand the challenges they are facing with allergen management.  She is expertly placed to advise on analytical testing, and to provide direct support through factory visits and training.

Connect with Barbara Hirst on LinkedIn

Jessica Sage

Jessica is a Food Safety and Quality Consultant at RSSL where she has worked since 2005.

As with her colleagues, in this role Jessica partners with customers and advises them on all aspects of allergen management. She regularly visits manufacturing facilities to provide bespoke advice and training.

She is a biologist by training and joined RSSL as part of the DNA and Protein analytical team where she became proficient in analytical methods for allergens, GMO and speciation, as well as other molecular biology techniques.

In this role she worked alongside Barbara Hirst on the FSA funded project “Survey of Allergen Advisory Labelling and Allergen Content of UK retail pre-packed processed foods” FS241038 (T07067).

Jessica also spent some time working in RSSL’s account management team, which broadened her understanding of commercial aspects of the food industry and allowed her to spend time meeting with clients and understanding their challenges.

Connect with Jessica Sage on LinkedIn

Interested in this service?

News & Events

Make an Enquiry