Allergies and Allergen Awareness

Allergies and allergens have recently become more important. Allergy sufferers may only need a small amount of allergen to cause a severe allergic reaction or even death. An allergen is a food or chemical that causes an adverse reaction in some people.

Loose Foods and Allergens

Advice on Allergen Labelling for Loose Foods

Our practical advice gives you information on how to tell your customers about allergens in your food. It covers staff training and allergen awareness. Using this is a quick and easy way to make sure you comply with the regulations. £6.50 (delivered by email)

More on Allergen Pack


The above allergen pack forms part of our Food Hygiene Ratings improvement pack. You can access all about allergens and all the other areas which influenece your Food Hygiene Rating for as little as £50 a year.

More on FHRS Pack

Food withdrawals

Often a change of recipe or ingredient may mean the labelling is incorrect. If the product has not been distributed to the final consumer, a withdrawal from sale is necessary if this affects the safety of the product.

This will inevitably involve costs of collecting and repackaging or disposal.

Fourteen Allergens

Food business operators and staff must be aware of allergens. Since 2005, EU lawmakers have recognised fourteen allergens which must be declared on the label if present in a pre-packed product.

They include:

  • gluten
  • mustard
  • nuts

Some foods such as strawberries, may cause allergic reactions but are not yet included in the specified list.

Allergen Information Requirements

The Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIC) (EU1169/2011) means there are responsibilites for food businesses with regard to allergens. Before December 2014, it was only pre-packed food that had to have allergen information on the label. Since then, all food whether sold pre-packed or loose must have allergen information available.

Restaurant owner jailed for manslaughter

The owner of an Indian restaurant in Yorkshire was jailed for 6 years after he was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and six other food safety offences.

Customer Paul Wilson made it clear that the curry he ordered in January 2014 should not contain nuts. He suffered a severe anaphylactic reaction after eating the curry and died.

The court heard that corners were being cut in the takeaway to save money and the curry contained nuts despite Mr Wilson's request for a nut free curry.

This case illustrates the importance of taking allergens seriously and knowing the risks of producing unsafe food.

Food Recalls

Allergen labelling on packaging must be correct. If it is not, the food could be considered unsafe and therefore illegal. Incorrect allergen labelling results in many recalls of stock after it has been sold, with associated costs of collection and disposal.

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