The new allergy rules mean that you can now get information on the 14 allergens when you shop for food or eat out. Most of these allergens are easy to recognise as raw ingredients – the problem arises when they are “hidden” in recipes with many ingredients.
What foods have to be identified
Foods which can cause the allergic reactions and need to be identified are:
- Cereals containing gluten – includes wheat, rye, barley and oats
- Crustaceans – includes crab, lobster, prawns, scampi
- Lupin – includes seeds and flour
- Molluscs - includes mussels, squid, whelks
- Nuts – includes almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts,
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide – often used in dried fruit, meat products, soft drinks, wine and beer
For people who have a food allergy there are 3 stages to managing the condition:
- Avoid the cause
- Recognise the symptoms of a reaction
- Know what to do if it happens again
Customers with a food allergy need complete and correct information so that they can make choices about what they eat. Information can be found on food labels and must now be provided, or made available on request for loose foods that are sold or provided by all food businesses. Customers can ask for information to be given to them about what is in the food that they are buying.
What customers should expect
Customers should look out for posters in food businesses and for new information that might be on menus, chalkboards or labels. If the information is provided by a member of staff this must be made obvious on a clearly displayed notice. Businesses cannot say they don’t know and should never guess.
If a telephone order is taken for food, for example for a takeaway, information must be provided before customers finalise their purchase and in a written format when the food is ordered.