Food allergy awareness
Food allergies are reactions to certain types of food, which can cause serious illness and death.
What foods cause food allergies?
The main types of food allergens which cause allergic reactions are:
- cereals that contain gluten - including wheat (e.g. spelt and Khorasan), rye, barley and oats
- crustaceans - (e.g. prawns, crabs and lobsters)
- molluscs - (e.g. mussels and oysters)
- sesame seeds
- sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)
- tree nuts - (e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts)
Food business responsibilities
All food handlers have a legal responsibility to ensure that the food they manufacture, sell and/or serve is safe for the consumer to eat. This is particularly true when providing food products to people with a food allergy or intolerance.
Please note: A number of useful documents that will assist you in complying with your legal requirement can be found in the downloads section.
Food allergy declaring and labelling
It is a legal requirement for food allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-packed or pre-packed for direct sale. E.g. from takeaways, restaurants, cafes and sandwich shops.
The following information provides guidance on the legal requirements when declaring and labelling allergens:
- Food Standards Agency - allergen guidance for industry
- Food Standards Agency - allergen labelling
- Allergy UK - useful resources for caterers
From the 1 October the requirements for Pre-Packed for Direct Sale foods (PPDS) will change. The new labelling will help protect your consumers by providing potentially life-saving allergen information on the packaging.
Any business that produces PPDS food will be required to label it with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list. More information can be found by following the links below:
- Introduction to allergen labelling changes (PPDS) | Food Standards Agency
- Introduction to allergen labelling changes prepacked for direct sale as (PDF)
- Food allergen labelling and information: Technical guidance as (PDF)
Allergen cross contamination
Foods may become cross contaminated with allergens during the preparation and cooking process.
This can happen by contaminated work surfaces, cooking utensils, handling of food, and 'hidden' ingredients' (e.g. in dressings, oils and sauces).
To help prevent cross contamination, it is important to carry out the following practices:
1. Food to equipment contact
Make sure food being asked about has only been in contact with equipment (e.g. spoons, mixers etc) which has been washed properly.
2. Food to food contact
Make sure food being asked about has not been in contact with the allergen or food containing the allergen (e.g. through shared storage or preparation areas).
Oil that has already been used to cook other foods should not be used to cook the food being asked about (e.g. oil used to cook prawns could cause a reaction in someone who is allergic to shellfish).
3. Food to hand contact
Make sure the food being asked about has not been in contact with the allergen on someone's unwashed hands.
For further information on food allergy advice for caterers read.
Food allergen risk assessment
Ourprovides good practice for food businesses on the points to include as part of your allergen management procedures.
It will assist you in assessing whether the controls you currently have in place are effective and if any improvements can be made when dealing with customers who have food allergies or intolerances.
Food allergy awareness training courses
Courses are a great way to make sure all food handlers have knowledge of allergens and are able to provide allergen information for all food sold.
For a list of courses delivered online and in the Preston area see Food allergy training courses.