The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the publication of the manuscript “Allergen Removal and Transfer with Wiping and Cleaning Methods Used in Retail and Food Service Establishments.” The agency conducted a study to investigate the impact of existing recommendations for wiping and cleaning food-contact surfaces on removal and transfer of food allergens. Food-contact surfaces (stainless steel, textured plastic, and maple wood) were contaminated with peanut-, milk-, and egg-containing foods and subjected to various wiping and cleaning procedures.

The study revealed the following findings:

  • Overall, the nature and amount of allergen on a surface, as well as the type and state of wipe cloth, food-contact surface texture, and material composition, influenced the effectiveness of wiping and cleaning on allergen removal and the extent of allergen transfer on surfaces.
  • Full cleaning (using a wash-rinse-sanitize-air dry method) as recommended in the FDA Food Code was effective at allergen removal and minimizing allergen transfer.
  • Pre-scraping food from surfaces prior to full cleaning aided allergen removal.
  • Wet cloths/wipes and alcohol/quat wipes were more effective in allergen removal from surfaces than dry wipes.
  • Storing cloths in sanitizer solution minimized allergen transfer between surfaces.
  • Allergens were more difficult to remove from textured plastic than stainless steel or wood surfaces.

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