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What is an allergen?

An allergen is a substance that causes the body's immune system to react as though the substance is harmful.

How to safely manage food allergens

If you are running a food business, you must be aware of the risks posed by food allergens.

The Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR) requires every food business to know what allergens are present in their foods, and to provide that information to their customers.

If you prepare and produce food to order for your customers, you will need to provide them with accurate details about the allergens present in their food. If you produce packaged food, you will have to provide this information on an ingredients list attached to the packaging.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), provide information about allergen information rules in their Allergen guidance for food businesses.

The FSA's Food allergy and intolerance provides information on what you need to consider for your business to be fully legally compliant.

To help further, the FSA also provide online allergy training. There are other training providers who are able to offer online or face to face training.

What are the food allergens?

There are 14 allergens that businesses are required to tell you are part of the ingredients in the foods you purchase and these are:

  • celery;
  • cereals containing gluten (barley and oats);
  • crustaceans (prawns, crabs and lobsters);
  • eggs;
  • fish;
  • lupin;
  • milk;
  • molluscs (mussels and oysters);
  • mustard;
  • peanuts;
  • sesame;
  • soybeans;
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites; and
  • tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts).

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