Food allergies can be life threatening and the only way people can deal with a food allergy is to avoid the foods that make them ill. An oversight by a food business – such as serving someone food to which they are allergic – can damage the reputation of the business, as well as cause serious harm to the customer. Food allergens cannot be removed by cooking. This is why it’s essential to practise good kitchen hygiene, as well as careful separation, storage and labelling of ingredients when preparing food.
Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers contains a list of 14 substances or products which may cause food allergies or intolerances. When any of these are used as ingredients in prepacked foods their presence must be emphasised in the ingredient list so that they clearly stand out from the other ingredients.
When used in foods sold non-prepacked, information on their presence must be available for potential consumers prior to purchase. This may be provided on a menu, chalkboard, shelf label or verbally.
A poster displaying the 14 substances causing allergy or intolerance can be accessed at Allergies and Intolerances.
The Food Standards Agency has advice on how to provide allergen information to consumers:
If you would like to learn more about food allergen labelling, The Food Standards Agency Food allergy on-line training package deals with the requirements regarding the provision of allergen information.