Food Allergy

Allergic reactions to food

Although most allergic reactions to food are mild, some can be very serious or fatal.  It only takes a small amount of the food concerned to trigger the reaction.

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 as ingredients 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 allergens can be downloaded here.

For BusinessFood allergies can be life threatening and the only way people can manage 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.

The Food Standards Agency has advice on Allergen information [external site]:

If you would like to learn more about food allergen labelling, The Food Standards Agency Food allergy on-line training package deals with the new requirements regarding the provision of allergen information.

For ConsumersIf you think you have a food allergy or intolerance, then it's important to get a proper diagnosis. Don't cut food groups out of your diet without medical advice, because you could miss out on important nutrients.

Consumers should see our Understanding Food Labels page for more information on allergy labelling

Allergy Science

For information on the Food Standards Agency's Allergy Science programme, you can visit


Related Publications/Resources