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Food Allergen Rules

From 13 December 2014 the Food Information Regulations 2014 has changed the way that catering businesses provide information to customers.

Every year we see 4,500 hospital admissions and 10 deaths from food allergies. There is no cure and the only way to avoid getting ill is to make sure you don't eat the foods that you are allergic to. New  rules will change the way we get information on 14 allergens if they are found in the food we buy and sell. The list consists of cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, fish, peanuts, nuts, soybeans, milk, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, lupin and sulphur dioxide (SO2) at levels above 10mg/kg, or 10 mg/litre.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards are working together to provide advice and support to businesses to help them comply with new legal requirements.

If you are a consumer

The new rules will mean that you can now ask for information about 14 allergens if they are used as an ingredient in the food you are buying and you will see allergenic ingredients highlighted on the ingredients list for pre packed foods. As a customer you may also provide food businesses with pdf icon Chef's Cards [122kb] which list the foods that you are allergic to. These are intended to help caterers to understand exactly which foods their customers need to avoid.

pdf icon Allergen intolerances - a quick guide [419kb]

pdf icon Top allergy types - information sheet [217kb]

pdf icon Allergen leaflet - How to buy food safely when you have a food allergy or intolerance [340kb]

pdf icon Allergen chef cards [122kb]

If you are a food business selling loose food or serving food, i.e. a school canteen, restaurant, takeaway, caterer

The new rules mean that businesses serving unpackaged food will need to provide information about the allergenic ingredients used in the food served to customers. Information is needed for every item on the menu that contains one of the 14 allergens listed in the legislation. This can be provided on the menu, on a chalkboard, in an information pack or verbally from a member of staff. If the allergen information is not listed clearly, in an obvious place, a notice must be displayed advising customers where the information can be obtained.

Businesses will no longer be able to say that it is not known whether a food contains an allergen, or that all the food served may contain an allergen.

Businesses taking orders by telephone or via a website will need to provide allergen information before the order is complete, and when the order is delivered.

If you are a food business manufacturing prepacked food the new rules will mean you will have to emphasise allergenic ingredients by for example using bold type on the ingredients list.

pdf icon Allergen labelling prepacked- A guide for small and medium businesses that make or sell prepacked food [281kb]

pdf icon Loose foods - Advice on the new Food Information Regulations for small and medium food businesses [2Mb]

pdf icon Allergen Chart [582kb]

pdf icon Allergen Signage [14kb]

pdf icon Recipe sheet [619kb]

pdf icon Think allergy [529kb]

pdf icon Food allergen labelling Technical guidance [284kb]

Further information is available from The Food Standards Agency, at http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide/allergen-resources including a booklet "Allergen Information For Loose Foods" which is designed for caterers, cafes, restaurants, takeaways, schools and institutions, sandwich bars etc.

An online training course for businesses can also be accessed on http://allergytraining.food.gov.uk/