Allergens

Since December 2014 it has been a legal requirement that any prepacked food or drink sold in the UK must clearly state on the label if it contains any of the 14 prescribed allergens.

Obtaining allergen information

Information about allergens in packaged food is usually emphasised using bold, italics or colours in the ingredients section of its packaging.

Where food or drink is sold without packaging or is wrapped on site the food business must provide the following information to customers:

  • A clear statement can be included on a notice, menu, ticket or label inviting customers to ask a member of staff about ingredients used. Typical wording might be:

'Food Allergies and In tolerances: Please ask as member of staff if you require information on the ingredients in the food we serve'

  • A list the allergens in each food can be included on a printed menu or chalk board
  • Customers can be directed to a 'Menu Folder' at the point of order. This could include recipes, ingredient labels etc to help them make an informed decision.
  • Staff can provide the information verbally. In this situation it is important that they know how to find this information at any time.

A food business operator cannot refuse to provide specific allergen information on the food served. It cannot give incorrect or misleading information on a menu or through verbal communication.

What are the allergens?

The law covers the following 14 types of food:

  • cereals containing 'gluten' (including wheat, rye, barley)
  • crustaceans (for example prawns, crabs, lobster and crayfish)
  • molluscs (clams, scallops, squid, mussels, oysters and snails)
  • fish
  • peanuts (these are not a member of the nut family)
  • soybeans
  • milk
  • eggs
  • nuts (almond, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, pistachio, cashew, macadamia and Queensland nut)
  • celery and celeriac
  • mustard
  • sesame
  • lupin
  • sulphur dioxide or sulphites (often found in dried fruit and wine and where more than 10mg/kg is in the finished product)

 

Reducing the risk

Food business can reduce the risk of cross contamination in their kitchen by taking the following steps:  

  • storing ingredients separately
  • having separate work areas
  • introducing separate cleaning procedures and equipment
  • using separate equipment, for example, colour coded tongs, boards and storage tubs
  • training staff, so they are able to inform customers of which allergens are in the food
  • displaying a sign, or add a line to the menu for customers to ask about allergens
  • remembering to update records when the menu or recipe is changed
  • considering using standard recipes for dishes on the menu 
  • remembering to separate foods containing allergens from the other meals during delivery

 

Allergen Training Courses

Breckland Council is able to offer training on allergens for your business. For further information please contact us on 01362 656313 or by e-mail:  foodandhealth&safety@breckland.gov.uk

Further Information

Further information can be obtained from the Food Standards Agency at: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide

Notices, recipe sheets and training material can be obtained from the Food Standards Agency at: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide/allergen-resources

For further help and advice, email Breckland Council:  foodandhealth&safety@breckland.gov.uk