Allergens Information for Food Businesses

The Council’s Environmental Health Team is working in partnership with Trading Standards and local community representatives to support businesses and help them to comply with the new allergen rules.

This involves running a series of practical workshops for businesses from January 2015, where advice and guidance will be given. It is important that food businesses know what to do if they serve a customer who has a food allergy.

From December 2014 all food businesses are required to provide correct information about allergens in food. The rules apply to all catering and retail businesses that serve or sell loose or non-pre-packed foods.

This means that businesses have to provide information for every menu item or product that is sold that contains any of the 14 major allergens as ingredients. To do this, business owners and their staff need to know which food contains the allergens.

Businesses need to assess their menus and food that they prepare or sell and have a written record of any of the allergens and where they can be found. This information needs to be kept up to date and kept so that staff can get the information easily through paper or electronic records.

What businesses must do – 10 top actions to take:

  • Customer Information – display information about allergens in an obvious place where customers can see it, such as a poster on menus or chalkboards
  • Ingredients & Packaged food – check the ingredients lists of the foods you buy – do any of them contain allergens?
  • Recipes – check the recipes of the food you sell – do any of them contain allergens?
  • Cooking – avoid any cross contamination of allergens during cooking by keeping spoons and pans separate
  • Records – keep a documented record on the premises of all of the dishes or foods that contain allergens and make sure it is kept up to date if anything changes
  • Staff – make sure that all staff know about allergens and where the record is so that they can answer any questions from customers
  • Storage – store foods in sealed containers that contain peanuts, nuts, seeds, milk powder and flour
  • Phone Orders – where customers order food over the phone, staff must ask the customer if they have a food allergy
  • Deliveries – if food is delivered, include a written note of any allergens that it contains
  • Internet – if food is ordered over the internet, provide information about any allergens

What foods have to be identified

Foods which can cause the allergic reactions and need to be identified are:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten – includes wheat, rye, barley and oats
  • Crustaceans – includes crab, lobster, prawns, scampi
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin – includes seeds and flour
  • Milk
  • Molluscs – includes mussels, squid, whelks
  • Mustard
  • Nuts – includes almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts,
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soya
  • Sulphur dioxide – often used in dried fruit, meat products, soft drinks, wine and beer

You are no longer allowed to say that you do not know if a food contains a major allergen or that your food may contain allergens.

It is an offence to provide inaccurate or incomplete information about allergenic ingredients and businesses that regularly fail to provide the right information can face a fine up to £5,000.


  • icon representing a file Allergen matrix (allergen chart) It is a legal requirement for food businesses to provide accurate information about the allergenic ingredients used in the food and drink they serve. Allergen matrix.pdf