14 Major food allergens 

The Food Information Regulation says food businesses must provide information about the allergic ingredients used in food they sell/provide.

This means that restaurants, cafes, bars and other food/drink businesses need to have a good understanding of allergen types. There are 14 major allergens which need to be communicated to the customer, either on a label or through provided information such as menus.  

Cereals containing gluten

This category includes barley, rye, triticale, oats, spelt, kamut, khorasan, farro, durum, bulgar, couscous and semolina.

Allergy to wheat directly and its varieties is but it is the contained protein gluten that is the issue.

Crustaceans

This category includes lobster, crab, langoustine, prawn, shrimp and crayfish as well as derivations of these such as shrimp paste.

Spoiled shellfish and fish of all types can produce histamine which can lead to a condition called scombrotoxic poisoning.

Molluscs

This category includes osyers, clam, muscles, cockles, whelks, periwinkles, snails (including land snails), cuttlefish, squid and octopus as well as derivations of these such as squid ink used in pasta. 

Eggs

All egg products and derivations must be considered including eggs from other birds than chickens, such as goose, duck, pigeon and quail. 

Fish

All types of fish should be considered in this category although negative reactions are more prevalent in species such as cod, hake, haddock, mackerel, whiting, salmon, trout, herring, bass, swordfish, halibut and tuna.  Think about derivations such as fish oils and fish paste. 

Peanuts

Peanuts are unrelated to common tree nuts, they are actually legumes. Be careful as peanuts can come under different names such as groundnut. Also consider flours and butter used as these can contain peanut oil. 

Milk

Sufferers can be allergic or intolerant to milk and the proteins it contains. 

Consider all types of milk, other than cow’s milk, including goat, sheep, buffalo, yak and camel. 

Lupin

These plants are commonly grown all over Europe and further afield. The plant, flower and seeds can be used in manufacturing of foods such as flour as an alternative to cereal grains.

(Tree) nuts

Usually simply referred to as nuts rather than tree nuts. This category includes hazelnuts, brazil, almond, pistachio, pecan, walnut, macadamia and cashew.

Soya

Used extensively as an alternative to meat. It can be found in flour, oils and food products themselves.

This category includes bean curd, edamame beans, miso paste, textured soya protein and tofu. 

Sesame seeds

Usually simply referred to as nuts rather than tree nuts. This category includes hazelnuts, brazil, almond, pistachio, pecan, walnut, macadamia and cashew.

Celery

Commonly used in soups, sauces and other food products, celery can be split up into several parts. All parts of the celery plant must be considered, including the seeds, spice and powder.

Mustard

Although relatively rare in the UK it still needs to be considered. Including mustard powder, leaves, seeds, flowers and oils. 

Sulphites and sulphur dioxide

These are common preservatives and antioxidants found in many manufactured foods. If they are present in volumes greater than 10mg per kilogram or 10ml per litre they must be declared on packaging.

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