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Food Safety Training, Auditing & Management
Food Safety Training, Auditing & Management

Allergens and the Law

There is no cure for food allergy. The only way people with allergies can stay safe is by avoiding the specific foods. Providing good allergen information is vital to keep your customers with allergens safe.

In the UK around 2 million people have a food allergy (this roughly equates to 2% of adults & 5% of children). On average 10 people each year die as a result of having a food allergy.

We will cover;

  • Which allergens you need to be aware of
  • What you need to do to comply with the law
  • Best practices

The law covering the UK legal regulations of Allergens in the food industry are contained in the following legislation. EU Regulation No. 1169/2011 (EU FIC) and Commission Implementing Regulation EU No. 1337/2014, the Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR) and Food Labelling Regulations 1996.

We will give a summary of these regulations and how they can be complied with. We will be concentrating on non pre-packed product (covered under loose foods regulation), i.e restaurants/takeaways etc, and not  food manufacturers.

Which allergens do you need to be aware of?

There are 14 allergens which are covered by labelling regulations and the presence of which in any product must be declared in food products;

  • Cereals containing gluten namely wheat, rye, barley, oats
  • Crustaceans  (for example prawns, lobster, crabs and crayfish)
  • Egg and egg products 
  • Fish and fish products
  • Peanuts and peanut products  (even a trace can be harmful)
  • Soybeans and soy  products 
  • Milk and milk products (lactose)
  • Nut 
  • Celery and celery products 
  • Mustard and mustard products (can be hidden in pastes & other ingredients)
  • Sesame seeds and sesame products including sesame oil
  • Sulphur dioxide and/ or sulphites
  • Lupin and lupin products 
  • Molluscs and products  (for example mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, snails and squid).

Your legal obligations

All food business operators, serving loose un-packed foods to the public, have legal responsibilities with regards to the specified allergens.

  • Verbal information must be provided clearly upon request & must be accurate
  • A notice must be displayed clearly visible to customers advising that any allergen requirements should be notified to whoever is taking the order

Is there a process in place to enable consistent information to be provided? Queries should be referred to the nominated person, & the following must be considered.

  • Ingredients information on a chart or ingredients information sheets You must be able to verify the information
  • Declared allergen ingredients information may be through a ‘contains’ or ‘may contain’ statement
  • How are dietary requests communicated from front to back of house?
  • Preparing foods for allergic consumers – what process is in place (separation of equipment, hand washing procedures)
  • Do you use Safer Food, Better business (SFBB) “Safe Method: Allergy”? This is quite a good guide on how to deal with allergens
  • Are you making specific claims i.e. gluten free – do you know how much gluten is allowed to be able to make this claim?

Best practices

  • As well as a notice customers can clearly see, include an allergen reminder on menus
  • Whenever there is a change of ingredients or supplier, check for allergen changes and keep original packaging if decanting into another container
  • Ensure customer contact staff are aware where to find allergen information or who the designated members of staff are who can provide the information – never guess
  • Use a recipe sheet with allergens in menu items as a quick reference
  • Ensure that if separate equipment is not used for allergenic product that a thorough cleaning and sanitising procedure is adopted including equipment and work surfaces
  • If a customer asks for a food that does not contain a particular ingredient only say yes if you can be sure that none of that ingredient will be in the food

Further information on allergens can be found at:

Cowan Catering can train staff to level 2 Allergen awareness at your premises, and can advise on allergen compliance and provide all relevant allergen documentation.

Please contact us for more information.

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