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Food allergens

Important changes to allergen law for businesses

Food businesses must ensure that appropriate information is available to customers regarding allergens contained in foods sold. How this is to be done depends on the way in which the food is sold , including  whether it is wrapped in advance or ordered in advance.

New legislation, which came into force on 1 October 2021 requires food businesses to include the product name and full ingredient information on food sold prepacked for direct sale (PPDS).

The new legislation improves information about allergens and other ingredients in food packed in advance, mainly at the same place where it’s sold, before being offered to consumers.

Most pre-wrapped foods will require to be labelled. All ingredients require to be listed and all allergens require to be highlighted in some way in this list

Full guidance for businesses to help with compliance is available on the Food Standards Scotland website.

Food Standards Scotland has also developed additional online allergen training and advanced online allergen training for food businesses.

If you are using Cooksafe, Retailsafe or Butchersafe as the basis for your food safety management system please note that the allergen house rules have been updated and should be printed and included in your manual.

If you are not pre-packing foods for direct sale, the existing allergen laws still apply to your business.

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 that 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 that explains how the law applies to your business.

Page last updated:
14 Jun 2023

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