Allergen guidance for industry

Guidance for business on the legal requirements when declaring and labelling allergens. Resources to help staff understand and apply the requirements.
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Allergen ingredients information should be recorded and should contain:

  • product specification sheets
  • ingredients labels
  • recipes or explanations of the dishes provided

Allergen information can also be provided as part of a conversation with a customer but this needs to be backed up by the information being in writing to ensure the information is accurate and consistent. The customer has a responsibility to tell you about their allergy or intolerance.

Recording allergen information and clear communication with your staff, customers and suppliers will help to ensure that customers with food allergies are given accurate information.

You will need to think about how:

  • food allergens are handled
  • information is given to the customer
  • staff can be trained about allergens

Declaring the 14 allergens

Food products that contain any of the allergens as an ingredient will need to be declared by the business.

Annex II (as amended by Commission Delegated Regulation No. 78/2014) of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) lists the 14 major foods which can cause allergic reactions. These are:

  • celery
  • cereals that contain gluten – including wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan), rye, barley and oats
  • crustaceans – such as prawns, crabs and lobsters
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs – such as mussels and oysters
  • mustard
  • tree nuts – including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)

Some ingredients and substances include ‘processing aids’ used during the manufacture of a food or drink product. These processing aids could still be present after the product has been manufactured. In the case of sulphites, which are often used to preserve dried fruit, they might still be present after the fruit is used to make chutney.

Allergens must be declared if you provide:

  • prepacked food or drink
  • non-prepacked food or drink

We provide an allergy and intolerance sign to download and print off for your business.

Gluten-free

If you are providing food that is gluten-free, there are strict rules.

In order for food to be gluten-free it must not contain more than 20mg/kg of gluten.

If you are making or selling any food that is gluten-free you must have processes in place to prevent cross-contamination.

Resources for caterers selling loose foods 

    Allergen management guides can be found in the Safer food, better business for caterers pack. 

    Allergen training and recording for staff

    As a food business, it is your responsibility to know which allergens are present in the foods you sell or serve.

    To be able to identify which dishes contain allergens you should:

    • check the ingredients list of all branded products
    • use the same recipes every time
    • always check what is delivered is what was ordered
    • keep allergen information up to date
    • keep ingredients in original or labelled containers
    • label pre-packed foods with allergen information
    • train staff
    Allergy training 

    Keep staff trained and informed

    All staff should:

    • know the procedures and policies when asked to provide allergen information
    • get training on handling allergy information requests
    • know the risks of allergen cross-contamination when handling and preparing foods

    Resources

    Enforcement

    Local councils will be enforcing the regulations that food businesses must comply to. If a business fails to act on previous advice given by the local council, a penalty notice, known as an improvement notice, may be issued.

    These notices will formally outline the steps a business needs to take in order to improve. There will be a set period of time allocated to allow for the business to make changes.

    If you want to appeal an improvement notice, you have 28 days to respond to the notice. These 28 days start from the date the notice was issued.