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Allergen guidance

Allergen guidance

What is an allergy?

A food allergy is an immune response to a food triggered by the body’s immune system. Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to certain proteins in food. Food allergies can cause mild symptoms (e.g., hives, itching, gastrointestinal issues), but in rare cases can trigger a severe and life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Properly identifying and labeling allergens in cannabis products and preventing allergen cross-contact are important factors in ensuring the safety of consumers who suffer from food allergies.

What are the major food allergens?

The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) follows federal law that recognizes nine major food allergens: Milk, Eggs, Tree Nuts, Wheat, Peanuts, Soybeans, Sesame, Fish, and Shellfish. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 4, §15000, subd. (c).)

DCC regulations and allergens

To protect those with food allergies and sensitivities, DCC regulations require that licensees who handle allergens establish and implement a written allergen control program as part of the Product Quality Plan to prevent both labeling mistakes and allergen cross-contact between product types. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 4, §17214, subd. (d)(3).) Licensees must implement an allergen control program that is appropriate for their specific manufacturing activities.

Key elements of an allergen control program

  • Accurately listing all major allergens present in the cannabis product on the ingredient list of the product labeling.
  • Providing accurate allergen warnings on the cannabis product label in the form of a contains statement – the word “contains” followed by a list of the allergens contained in the cannabis product.
  • Implementing good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and other allergen controls during manufacturing to prevent allergen cross-contact between product types and labeling mistakes.

Find out more about creating an effective allergen control program, as well as an overview of the major food allergens and where they are commonly found in cannabis products.

Download the guide: Best practices of an allergen control program

Topics covered in this guide:

  • DCC regulations and allergens
  • DCC regulatory requirements and best practices of an allergen control program
    • Cleaning protocols
    • Staff training
    • How to store allergens and allergen-containing ingredients
    • Labeling for cannabis products containing allergens
    • Written procedures
  • Understanding the nine major food allergens
    • Alternate names for these allergens
    • Common foods and ingredients that contain these allergens
    • Examples of cannabis products that may contain these allergens.

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