Avoiding the accidental introduction of peanuts into the wheat foods chain was the subject of a two-day August summit organized and hosted by Ardent Mills L.L.C.

Ardent Mills said the purpose of the event was to help entities in the wheat and peanut industries “grapple with potential root causes and activate several important work streams to mitigate peanut allergen threats to consumers.”

A wide range of groups attended the summit, including representatives from the North American Millers’ Association; several railroads; a trucking company; the International Association of Operative Millers; Buhler, Inc.; Neogen Corp., a maker of allergen detection tests; the Food Allergen Research and Resource Program of the University of Nebraska; and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Peanut interests were represented by the American Peanut Shellers Association, the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the University of Georgia.

“Ardent Mills brought together leaders in the milling, peanut and wheat industries, scientific experts, allergen testing and consumer product associations for this pivotal meeting,” says Dan Dye, chief executive officer of Ardent Mills. “All attendees came prepared to share their concerns, identify best practices, outline opportunities for change and explore ways to dramatically reduce the potential for undeclared peanut allergen residue in wheat flour.”

According to Ardent Mills, discussion from the summit focused on four areas for follow-up in the weeks and months ahead:

1) Mapping of peanut and wheat movement from farms via truck and rail to distribution points such as shelling facilities, grain elevators and mills and then beyond to food manufacturers, bakeries or other wholesale or retail sales to consumers;

2) Working with the American Association of Railroads to identify mitigation steps that can be implemented in the rail transportation of the commodities of peanuts, wheat and other grains;

3) Identifying standards for cleaning of transportation equipment that carry these commodities by rail and truck; and

4) Optimizing mill industry cleaning house operations and implementing new technologies to sort and clean grains.

The summit followed a series of highly disruptive food recalls earlier in the year occurring when incidental contamination of flour with peanuts was linked back to a flour mill in Georgia. Ardent Mills was not involved in the earlier recalls, but the episode raised concerns across the entire milling industry about the potential for cross contamination of flour in the future and the need to find ways to minimize the risk of such incidents.