Food allergen information for businesses

Restaurants, takeaways and other food businesses serving or selling food are required by law to tell customers if any of the main 14 food allergen ingredients are in the food they serve.

Consumers should feel confident in asking about allergenic ingredients when eating out.

Food allergens can be life threatening and the only way people can manage a food allergy is to avoid the foods that make them ill. Mislabelling a food on your part could have catastrophic effects, such as causing serious harm to a customer as well as possible damage to the reputation of your business.

Food allergens cannot be removed by cooking. That is why it is essential to practise good kitchen hygiene, as well as careful separation, storage and labelling of ingredients when preparing food.

Food safety legislation requires the operator of the food business to : 

  • label allergenic ingredients in pre-packed foods
  • provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged, or pre-packed for direct sale, for example for catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars

The 14 allergens which need to be declared are: 

  1. Celery
  2. Cereals containing gluten
  3. Crustaceans
  4. Eggs
  5. Fish
  6. Lupin
  7. Milk
  8. Molluscs
  9. Mustard
  10. Nuts
  11. Peanuts
  12. Sesame seeds
  13. Soya
  14. Sulphur dioxide (sometimes known as sulphites)

Businesses have been given flexibility on how they provide allergen information. This can be advised through explanations by staff or signage to advise where or how this information can be found, such as on menus or in leaflets. Staff must know which dishes contain allergenic ingredients. 

From 1 October 2021 there will be new allergen labelling requirements. Any business that produces prepacked foods for direct sale (PPDS) will be required to label it with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list. 

Allergen guidance for food businesses can be found on the Food Standards Agency website. Please also see information about the Norfolk County Council 'Ask for Allergens' campaign.

Allergy training for food businesses is available for you and your staff as well as allergen checklists to help ensure you provide the right information to your customers.