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Food allergens

Important information that food businesses must give to their customers

Allergens contained in food and ingredients can potentially cause serious illness and even death in the worst cases.

Food businesses now have to provide detailed allergen information to customers. This is enforced in the UK by the Food Information Regulations 2014.

This legislation applies to you if, for example, you:

  1. provide meals in a café or restaurant
  2. sell food that you wrap yourself, such as loose bread rolls, sandwiches, cakes, deli products or other unpackaged foods
  3. provide institutional catering such as in schools, hospitals and care homes

During the preparation of food, you may be using prepacked foods as ingredients in your recipe. Allergens in the ingredients will be detailed in the ingredients list of prepacked foods.

There are 14 allergens that need to be identified if they are used as ingredients in a dish. They are:

  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten, for example flour and wheat
  • crustaceans
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs
  • mustard
  • nuts
  • peanuts
  • sesame Seeds
  • soya
  • sulphur Dioxide

There are also new requirements for businesses which provide loose food, such as supermarket food counters, delicatessens, restaurants and takeaways.

As a food business serving loose foods, you will have to supply information for every item on your menu that contains any of the 14 allergens as ingredients.

How to provide this information

Details of these allergens will have to be listed clearly in an obvious place such as:

  1. a menu
  2. chalkboard
  3. information pack

If it is not provided upfront, you will need to signpost to where it could be obtained, either in writing or verbally.

Further information on allergens is available on the Food Standards Agency website.

You can sign up for the Food Standards text alert service for alerts about allergens and other food safety issues.

You can print off a useful allergen sign and chart, along with a leaflet which explains how the law applies to your business.

Page last updated:
20 Oct 2020

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