IEH Academy

Allergen Control in Food Plants

Course details

Self-Paced eLearning


1-2 hrs.

Cindy Ryan

Dr. Gene Bartholomew

This course is tailored for food processing personnel who must design, update, and implement the elements of an allergen control program in their facility or company. The lessons address the risks associated with allergens, and the requirements needed to appropriately mitigate potential hazards or exposure to allergens. Give your personnel the knowledge needed to develop an approach to allergen risk management.

Benefits and Learning Objectives

Allergen control in the food industry is one of the largest food safety issues facing food processors. This course identifies characteristics of allergens, lists the responsibilities of various departments within the organization, and gives a clear road map to proper legislative compliance and active management of allergens within a facility across all functions. After taking the course, participants will be able to discuss their allergen control plan with industry experts.

Individuals who complete this course will have the knowledge needed to successfully implement allergen control standards.

  • What are food allergens?
  • Why are they important for a food processor to control?
  • What happens when allergen control fails?
  • What are the roles all employees play in ensuring allergen safety?
  • What are the components of a complete Allergen Control Plan?
  • Why is label verification so critical?


Students will progress through a series of modules that address the following subject matters:

  1. Defining food allergens
  2. Why allergen control is critical to the food industry
  3. Examples of allergen control failures
  4. Building a successful allergen control team
  5. Developing an approach to risk management
  6. Importance of management commitment to training and renewal

Who Should Take this Course?

The intended audience for this course includes:

  • Food Processors
  • Receiving and Shipping Managers
  • Facility Maintenance
  • Productions Manager
  • Quality Assurance Personnel
  • Food Safety Managers
  • Facility Managers
  • Facility Personnel


Course Instructors

Cindy Ryan

Associate Director, Technical Services - IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group

Cindy Ryan began her professional career at Nestle in 1994 as a Senior Microbiologist. Ms. Ryan earned her M.S. in Food Science and Food Microbiology and her B.S. in Animal Science and Industry from Kansas State University. During her eleven-year stay with Nestlé, she moved from Senior Microbiologist to Quality Assurance Manager, and finally to Senior Microbiologist and Manager of HACCP Systems. Ms. Ryan was in charge of the plant hygiene, auditing, troubleshooting, managing the QA department, quality training, implementation of quality systems, and pathogen monitoring across the U.S. and Canadian facilities. She also spearheaded troubleshooting and follow-up of problems involving packaging, processing quality, and microbiological issues, as well as assisting Nestlé corporate. Before joining the IEH consulting team, Ryan spent 9 years as an independent consultant assisting food manufacturing facilities to define, organize, correct, implement, maintain and validate required QA and Food Safety programs including HACCP, allergen control, and pathogen monitoring. Ryan enjoys working on a variety of projects, like assisting manufacturers in the areas of HACCP and Food Safety Plans, pathogen monitoring and control, and allergen control.

Dr. Gene Bartholomew

Vice President, Technical Services - IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group

Dr. Gene Bartholomew joined IEH as Vice President of Technical Services in 2019. He earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology from Cornell University and a B.S. in biology from Bucknell University. Dr. Bartholomew began his professional career at International Paper in 1983 as a research scientist. During his 15 years there, he commercialized and validated an aseptic packaging system, managed a beverage pilot plant and its laboratory, started taste panel testing for the company, and advanced to manage several products, and development groups. Dr. Bartholomew then joined Smithfield Foods Packaged Meats. He started in the John Morrell Group as the corporate director of food safety for 7 meat processing and slaughter facilities and 1 spice plant. He later took on the role of Senior Director of Corporate Food Safety, during which he was responsible for 14 meat processing plants and several FDA-regulated plants. Throughout his 20-year career at Smithfield, he led HACCP plan design and validation, thermal processing, regulatory compliance, sanitation, allergen control, and environmental pathogen monitoring. He also managed a corporate microbiology laboratory and its accreditation, has certifications in HACCP training, BRC, and SQF schemes, and is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual. Dr. Bartholomew was a founding member of the North American Meat Institute Listeria Control Workshop and has taught numerous courses to members of the food industry.