COVID-19 - UPDATE

Given the current situation we are aware that many of our customers cannot accommodate our Food Safety and Quality consultants coming to their sites in order to conduct assessments. Our Food Safety team are here to support you during this time and we are offering the option of site visits via video calls. We realise this is a different way of working but will use a combination of video calling and document sharing and believe that the experience will still deliver the required outcome.
We recommend you contact us directly on +44(0) 118 918 4076 and we can discuss what will work best for you at this time. As soon as we are able to, we intend to resume the site visits and practical training, but in the meantime, we are here to support you.

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

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

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