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Food Allergens – Your customers’ safety, your obligations.

allergen deli

Food Allergens – Your customers’ safety, your obligations.

For people living with severe allergies, specific foods and drinks can be a potential threat that they live with every day. Around a quarter of the global population have a food allergy, food-intolerance, or a relate illness. In the world of allergies and food intolerances, we have much more knowledge than ever before, and the foodservice industry has become more proactive when it comes to catering for specific allergies and dietary requirements.



Evidence suggests that the number of food allergy related incidents is increasing worldwide. In New Zealand, the annual food-induced anaphylaxis hospital presentation rate increased almost three-fold between 2006 and 2015. In the US, the incidents of food-related anaphylaxis in children and adults increased by 177% between 2004 and 2016. And in the UK the prevalence of all types of allergies including food allergies appeared to be increasing in children between 2006 and 2020, based on a sevenfold increase in new allergy appointment capacity to meet the growing demand.

With increases in the rate of food allergies worldwide – some potentially fatal – improved testing to detect allergens, and the prevalence of legislation for food allergens, it is critically important that food businesses ensure that customers are aware of food allergens. Customers need to be able to make informed and safe choices and they can only do this when food labelling and the information provided is accurate and up-to-date.

Five steps to food allergen compliance.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland outlines the five steps that help food businesses to be compliant with allergens legislation.

  1. By law, food businesses must declare the use of the 14 food allergens in writing. These allergens are:
  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten (found in barley and oats)
  • crustaceans (such as shrimps, crabs, and lobsters)
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs
  • mustard
  • peanuts
  • sesame
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if at a concentration of more than ten parts per million (ppm))
  • tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, and macadamia nuts)
  1. Ensure the allergen information is legible and clear: The allergen must be indicated in the list of ingredients with clear reference to the name of the allergen and highlighted in a way that makes it stand out from the other ingredients. For example, this could be through font, style or background colour.
  2. Ensure the allergen information is easily accessible to customers: This information can be provided by labelling the allergens contained in individual dishes, or by displaying a sign directing customers to ask staff for allergen information. This information must be visible, clearly legible, and easily accessible to the customer.
  3. Ensure the allergen information is up to date: Allergen ingredients information should be included on ingredients labels and all allergens information should be recorded and up to date. This can, for example, be recorded digitally.
  4. Monitor your suppliers’ allergen information: Suppliers should disclose, for instance, all allergenic products manufactured in the same facility as the business’s own ingredients. In addition, food businesses should be up to date on suppliers’ allergen testing procedures and preventive measures against cross-contamination.

food labelling for allergen safety

The importance of food allergen labelling and compliance.

In the UK, the food industry is required to label common allergens in their products under the UK’s Food Information (Amendment) Regulations 2019, commonly known as ‘Natasha’s Law’. The introduction of the legislation has heightened awareness of food labelling compliance which is essential for food businesses to launch successful products that are safe for consumers to eat.

Food businesses must declare the presence of food allergens used as ingredients in their foods. High profile cases of issues with allergen packaging shows how important it is for food retailers to ensure that foods are labelled correctly, that allergen information is easily accessible, and that ingredients can be traced necessary.

As well as highlighting which foods contain allergens, labelling also serves to highlight allergen-free alternatives, ensuring that customers with allergies still have safe options to choose from.

While the growing awareness and prevalence of allergies increases the importance of compliance for food businesses and their obligations, digital solutions can help food business owners to implement safe allergens management.

  • Digitalising allergen folders improves efficiencies as customers can find the information they need quickly and easily.
  • This also reduces the need for paper stocks from the business, saves time spent printing, and removes the associated costs.
  • Most importantly, with the ability to update digital folders more quickly and from any location remotely, it reduces the risk of human error where paper folders might not be updated by staff, sheets are overlooked, or folders in multiple locations are not updated in a timely manner or are updated at different times.

To learn about solutions for food businesses that make food allergen management safer, easier and more efficient, contact Kelsius. Our aim is to make the world safer for consumers food, through automated and digital processes that help save time and save costs.

We have solutions for allergens information management that we can tailor for your food business.