What the food allergens are

Find out what food businesses are responsible for, how to tell if they’re allergy aware and what to do if someone has an allergic reaction.

Allergens and food businesses

It's the responsibility of all food businesses to provide accurate allergen information if anyone asks for it.

It is very important to be allergy aware as allergic reactions can sometimes be life threatening.

The 14 allergens recognised in law are:

  • cereals containing gluten, like wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut and their hybridised strains
  • peanuts, also called groundnuts
  • nuts, like almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamias and Queensland nuts
  • fish
  • crustaceans, includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps and prawns
  • molluscs, includes mussels, cockles, oysters, scallops, squid and octopus
  • sesame seeds
  • eggs
  • milk and milk products, including lactose
  • soy beans
  • celery
  • lupin
  • mustard
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites at levels above 10mg per kg or 10mg per litre expressed as SO2

The Food Information Regulations 2014 require a food business to provide information to customers about the allergen content of all its food.

It is a criminal offence not to provide this information.

Download gluten free guidance from Coeliac UK.

What to do if someone has an allergic reaction

If you or someone you’re with feels ill or has a reaction to a meal, make sure you seek medical help immediately.

Find information about the treatment of allergies from the NHS

If you have a food allergy, when you eat food from restaurants, cafes, takeaways or buy food from places that make it themselves, always announce your allergies or intolerances before ordering. This is so that the business can tell you what is safe for you to order.

Be aware that even wrapped food does not always have allergen labelling. This is because the current law allows people to give verbal allergen information in some situations.

Food Standards Agency food allergen booklet

Download the food allergen booklet in other languages:

  • Bengali
  • Polish
  • simple Chinese
  • traditional Chinese
  • Urdu
  • Hindi
  • Punjabi
  • Thai
  • Turkish

How to tell if a food business is allergy aware

It's good practice for a food business to display an allergen poster advising you to ask about allergens in food. They may also display allergen details on their menus. 

If you feel that a business is not very helpful in supplying allergen information, report it to Citizens Advice Consumer helpline or phone 03454 040 506.

Find more information on allergens from: 

You can also sign up for regular allergy alerts from FSA.