Allergens are the largest single cause of global food product recalls. The Food Standards Agency latest Annual Incident Report states allergens (14%) were one of the largest contributors to the total number of UK recorded incidents in 2015.

RSSL’s food allergen consultants are internationally recognised for providing up to date support and advice to food producers, food distributors and retailers. Our consultants are members of Government and industry committees, providing knowledge and advice for future legislation and guidance documents.

We can support you with:

  • Independent expert allergen risk assessment and mitigation programs
  • Future-proofing corporate allergen control systems
  • Providing expert opinions in the event of allergen related incidents, recalls and withdrawals
  • A comprehensive range of manufacturing facility based practical allergen training, covering risk assessment, validations and surveillance programmes
  • Compliance requirements to BRC V7 and customer Codes of Practice

Our highly qualified consultants can visit your site or plant, ensuring the advice we provide to you is relevant and tailored to your needs and requirements.

Meet our food allergen consultants

Simon Flanagan

SimonFlanaganSimon is the Senior Consultant of RSSL's Food Safety Division and heads up technical services in the field of allergens.

Simon Flanagan is an internationally acclaimed Technical Consultant specialising in the field of food allergens. Simon is biochemist by training who has worked in numerous of sectors of the food industry before joining RSSL 14 years ago. His current client base spans global blue chip manufacturers, retailers and ingredient suppliers as well as manufacturers of specialist dietary products such as gluten and allergen-free. The scope of projects successfully completed span 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 and a reference book including the Handbook of Food Allergen Detection and Control. He was presented with a technical leadership award in 2014 for contributions to food safety and SOFHT industry award for the development of practical allergen workshops. Simon was the first to develop a methodology for quantitative allergen risk assessment, which is becoming widely accepted as industry best practice for allergen risk assessment and mitigation. 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 projects and training courses.

Links and Affiliations

  • UK Food & Drink Federation – Allergen Steering Group
  • Food & Drink Europe – Allergen Taskforce (+ Joint INCO group)
  • iFAAM (Integrated approaches to allergy and allergen management) European Framework 7 Project – Associated Partner
  • ILSI Europe – Member Allergen Task Force-  Identify research needs and initiates, reviews expert group activities
  • Member of Expert Groups (comprised of industry, regulators, academics and patients groups)
  • Food Standards Agency – Food Allergy Branch. RSSL led a large UK survey focusing on may contains (advisory labelling) published 2014 and acted as a liaison for clients in response to emerging issues.
  • Member of Government Advisory committee – Advisory Committee for Novel Foods and Processes
  • Anaphylaxis’s Campaign; UK patient support group – Member of corporate advisory board
  • Coeliac UK; Patients support group– Member of corporate advisory board

Barbara Hirst

Barbara HirstBarbara is a Consultant in Food Safety and Quality, specialising in Allergens.

Barbara is a Food Safety and Quality Consultant at RSSL where she has worked for 17 years. In this role, she partners with customers and helps advise them on allergen management, both in risk assessment and validation of controls.

This covers customers from a wide range of food manufacturing and food service backgrounds.

She is a Geneticist by education and she was previously very involved with the horse meat industry issue and the alleged contamination of spices with nuts. Using her scientific and technical knowledge, Barbara has helped advise regulators and industry on the best practice approaches to sampling, testing and control measures. Barbara was recognised in 2013 by SOFHT for her services to industry during the horse meat crisis in 2013 by winning the ‘Best Technologist of the Year’ award.

She was the principal investigator for the FSA funded project 2012 -2014 “Survey of Allergen Advisory Labelling and Allergen Content of UK retail pre-packed processed foods” FS241038 (T07067). This was part of her previous role as manager of the DNA & Protein laboratory, where she was responsible for growing the analytical testing for allergens, meat and fish speciation and other molecular biology services. Her extensive experience enables her to partner with customers to understand the issues they are facing with allergen and other cross contract controls and help with analytical testing, factory visits or training.

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