It is a legal requirement for allergen information to be available to consumers. It is unacceptable for businesses to say "I don't know".
This includes food businesses such as:
- catering establishments
- delicatessens and butchers
- distributors of loose or pre-packaged food
Businesses need to know the allergens that are in all of the food they supply and advise consumers accordingly.
There are 14 allergens that must be declared, these are:
- nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamias, Queensland nuts)
- sesame seeds
- cereals containing gluten, wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut and their hybridised strains
- sulphur dioxide in quantities over 10 milligrams per litre
How to comply
For more information businesses can use the editable Risk Assessment for Caterers.
The editable Food Risks for Caterers can be used to record the name of the food and the allergens that it contains.
A Mandatory Food Information Checklist has been creates to assist food manufacturers.
The Food Standards Agency has provided further guidance that may be useful to food business operators:
Frequently asked questions
Who does the legislation apply to?
It applies to all persons that supply food to people, including:
- child minders
- village halls
- care homes
Please note: this is not an exhaustive list.
Does it apply if friends meet and bring in food e.g. in a village hall (knitting club)?
Does it apply to a one off event?
This legislation applies to food business operators. If you are not required to be registered with your local Environmental Health department, then you won’t be deemed a Food business operator and the legislation won’t apply.
What do I do if a product I use has a ‘May contain’ statement?
Although there is no legal requirement to make people aware of what may be in your food from other ingredients, good practice would be to make people aware.
Do I have to make a may contain statement if I use other allergens in my kitchen which could get into food when they aren’t supposed to?
You should do everything possible to minimise the risk of cross-contamination e.g. by using different utensils, different surfaces, labelling the allergens clearly during storage, cleaning down between making foods with different allergens etc. The Risk assessment on this page should be able to assist with this.
Again, there is no legal requirement to make a May contain’ statement, however if after takings steps to minimise the risk of cross contamination there is still a risk, then good practice would be to make consumers aware.