Allergen Guidance For Food Businesses

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Guidance on the 14 standard allergens required by UK / EU law to be declared on PrePacked for Direct Sale (PPDS) food labelling

Food Allergens 800 x 533

Whether you’re a startup or an experienced professional in the food industry, allergen ingredients labelling can be confusing.

Don’t worry as we’ve been setting the industry standard in food products nutrition calculation software and labelling for over 30 years, so we’re experts in allergen food labelling law.

What is a food allergen?

Let’s start by defining what an allergen is: strictly, it’s something that causes an allergic reaction in some people. When used in food labelling, this is a loose term covering both allergies and intolerances.

UK food allergen legislation

By UK / EU law, there are 14 standard allergens that need to be highlighted (emboldened) on food label ingredients (the food packaging’s ingredient declaration label). 

This allergens list is defined in food labelling legislation EU1169/2011, Annex II, which took effect from late 2014.

In October 2021, the UK law changed to extend the display and communication of food allergen information (i.e. not necessarily communicated via the food label itself – see below) to include ALL foods that are pre-packaged before the point of sale. 

It is known as Natasha’s Law due to the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a fatal allergic reaction after eating a baguette containing hidden sesame seeds baked into the dough. There was no specific allergen information on the baguette packaging and at the time, the UK food regulations allowed pre-packaged food to be sold without allergen labelling. 

Natasha’s Law

In summary the UK food law requires ALL food outlets selling PPDS (PrePacked for Direct Sale) food to:

  • Provide a full ingredient declaration list
  • Highlight (embolden) the 14 standard allergens in the ingredient declaration list 

What is PPDS (PrePacked for Direct Sale) food? 

This is food that is prepared, prepacked and offered or sold to consumers on the same premises. It includes:

  • Foods packaged before selecting and ordering
  • Foods sold from a mobile food outlet/van
  • Foods sold from a market stall
  • Foods sold from different units in the same building – i.e. shopping centres, airports, hospitals etc.

This applies to foods that are either entirely or partially enclosed where the food is ready for final sale to the consumer, and where the packaging cannot be altered without either opening or replacing it.

Please note: there are also prepacked foods which have NOT been prepared on the same premises. These foods are not PPDS, but they were already subject to the same UK food law regulations regarding listing allergen and ingredient information. Natasha’s Law extended the regulations to include BOTH prepacked and PrePacked for Direct Sale foods. 

What about for foods which are not PPDS or prepacked?

However, for non-PPDS foods – any food that is not in packaging or is packaged after customers have ordered it (e.g. a sandwich made to order at the point of sale) – the allergen information must still be provided, but this can be done through other means, including verbally or via signage where the product is on display).

What about distance selling? 

The labelling requirements don’t apply to PPDS foods sold by distance selling, such as food that can be purchased over the phone or on the internet. However, businesses selling PPDS food must ensure that the mandatory standard 14 allergens information is available to consumers before purchasing the product and also when they receive it.

For more information you can read our Natasha’s Law best practice guide to ensuring your business is being fully compliant, here

The 14 standard allergens 

Each month we’re going to take a closer look at 1 of the 14 standard allergens that need to be highlighted on UK/EU food label ingredients. These are listed below, with the page being updated every month. You can be first to see when we’ve added allergen information by following us on our LinkedIn page. 

Checking your ingredients list for allergens 

If you buy in some of your recipes’ ingredients, we recommend that you ALWAYS carefully read the ingredients list on your suppliers’ spec. sheets, to sanity check that all allergens you would expect to be listed based on the ingredients, have been listed.

In our 30+ years of experience we estimate that over 60% of supplier spec. sheets contain errors, so it’s always possible that they have overlooked naming an allergen.

If you change an ingredient supplier, do be aware that the allergens within the product may also be different.

Click here to view / download our ‘Cereals Containing Gluten allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

Gluten & cereal allergies

Those who suffer from coeliac disease or are gluten intolerant need to be able to easily identify gluten ingredients on food labels.

As well as being allergic to the gluten protein found in cereals, alternatively it’s possible to be allergic to the cereals themselves.

Highlighting gluten ingredients on food labels

In the UK, gluten is not listed as an allergen in a product’s ingredients list. Instead, references to gluten appear in the form of the gluten-containing ingredient itself – e.g. wheat flour.

Here are the main cereals containing gluten:

Wheat (all varieties including spelt, khorasan etc.)

Rye

Barley

What about oats?

Oats themselves are actually gluten-free.

However, they are prone to cross-contamination with Wheat, Rye and Barley as they are often processed in the same facilities, so need to be declared on labels.

Gluten-free oats products are available which are guaranteed to have NOT been processed in the same facility as Wheat, Rye or
Barley.

List of cereal crops containing gluten

Barley, barley flour, barley malt, barley wheat, bulgar wheat, cous cous, durum wheat, einkorn, emmer, kamut, modified wheat starch, pearl barley, rusk, rye, rye flour, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat, wheat flour, wheat bran, wheat protein, wheat rusk, wheat starch.

What foods usually contain these?

As well as breakfast cereals, these cereal crops can be found in foods containing flour, such as batter, breadcrumbs, bread, cakes, cous cous, pasta, pastry, sauces, soups, processed meat products, fried foods dusted with flour, and some brands of baking powder.

Foods containing hidden wheat flour

Also, look out for hidden wheat flour (containing gluten) often found in gravy powders, licorice, processed meats, alcoholic beverages, soy sauce, meat alternatives, flavoured crisps.

Click here to view / download our ‘Sesame allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is a sesame allergy?

Sesame seeds are the most common type of allergy to seed. They are extremely potent allergens, capable of causing severe, life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in susceptible individuals.

This type of allergic reaction led to the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse – after whom the Natasha’s Law UK legislation is named – as a result of eating a baguette containing hidden sesame seeds baked into the dough.

The different forms of sesame

The term ‘sesame’ refers to sesame seeds, ground sesame powder and sesame oil.

There are 4 main types of sesame: black, white, brown and red.

It’s a common ingredient in cuisine worldwide, ranging from baked goods to sushi.

Highlighting sesame ingredients on food labels

All species and different forms of sesame, as well as products derived from it, such as tahini, must be
clearly labelled with a reference to sesame – e.g. as ‘Sesame Seeds’.

Other products may have traces of sesame due to cross-contamination with ingredients processed in the same facilities. For this reason, sesame may be declared under allergy advice on the label.

Ingredients containing sesame

Sesame is known as / can be found in:

Ajonjoli

Benne, benne seed, benniseed

Gingelly, gingelly oil

Sesame Salt (Gomasio)

Halvah

Sesame flour

Sesame oil

Sesame paste

Sesame seed

Sesamol

Sesamum indicum

Sesemolina

Sim sim

Tahini, Tahina, Tehina

Til or teel

Common foods containing sesame include...

Baked foods
(Either inside the dough or sprinkled on top):

Breads

Bagels

Breadsticks

Hamburger buns & rolls

Cakes

Pies

Asian foods 

Sesame oil

Sushi

Noodles

Stir fry

Flavoured rice

Processed foods

Processed meats

Sausages

Vegeburgers

Chips

Breadcrumbs

Snack foods 

Chips (bagel, pita & tortilla chips)

Pretzels

Candy

Halvah

Rice cakes

Japanese snack mix

Breakfast foods

Cereals (granola & muesli)

Margarine

Pasteli (Greek dessert)

Protein & energy bars

Liquid-based foods

Soups

Dressings

Gravies

Marinades

Sauces

Dipping sauces (baba ghanoush, hummus, tahini)

Herbal drinks

Other foods

Tempeh

Falafel

Hummus

Risotto

Shish kebabs

Stews

Goma-dofu (Japanese dessert)

Herbs

Salads (sprinkled with Sesame)

Click here to view / download our ‘Milk (& Dairy) allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is a milk allergy?

When a person with a milk allergy is exposed to milk, proteins in the milk bind to specific IgE antibodies made by the person’s immune system. This triggers the person’s immune defenses, leading to reaction symptoms that can be mild or very severe.

Milk allergy is amongst the most common food allergies in adults. It’s also commonly found in infants and young children, although most outgrow it. 5-10% of people in the UK have a Milk allergy or intolerance, and in some other countries, the proportion is actually very high.

Milk allergy vs lactose intolerance

Milk allergy:

Person’s immune system overeacts to milk proteins (casein & whey)

Can trigger an allergic reaction ranging from mild to severe or even life-threatening

Lactose intolerance:

Person’s missing the lactase enzyme, which breaks down the lactose (a sugar) in milk / dairy

Person’s unable to digest the food / drink

Can trigger great discomfort but not life-threatening

Highlighting milk ingredients on food labels

Those who suffer from a milk allergy or are lactose intolerant need to be able to easily identify milk and dairy-based ingredients on food labels.

The term ‘milk’ is used to represents all mammalian milks.

All mammalian milk proteins must be clearly labelled as ‘milk’ and emboldened – e.g. ‘Dried Skimmed Milk‘.

All mammalian milk proteins have a similar structure, so a person’s likely to be allergic or intolerant to all of
them.

Therefore all milk & milk products (including lactose) need to be declared when used as an ingredient or a processing aid, except:

Whey used for making alcoholic distillates including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin

Lactitol

Dairy products (as they’re made from milk) don’t have to have an ingredients list if no other ingredients have been added apart from lactic acid, food enzymes & microbiological cultures, and (if cheese) salt.

To still clearly identify the presence of milk in such cases, the use of sales names such as ‘cheese’, ‘butter’, ‘cream’ and ‘yoghurt’ is acceptable, as legally these products can only be made from mammalian milk – e.g.: ‘Double Cream [Milk]’, ‘Butter [Milk]’.

The ingredient information must make a clear reference to milk in the case of less familiar milk products used as ingredients (e.g. fromage frais, mascarpone, cantal, quark), or products being sold under a name which does not clearly refer to milk.

Components derived from milk, such as lactose, casein and whey, must be declared with a clear reference to milk – e.g.: ‘Whey [Milk]’.

Foods and ingredients containing milk / dairy include:

Milk – in all its forms

Cow, goat & other mammalian milks

Whole, semi-skimmed, skimmed, low-fat, non-fat

Fresh

UHT

Condensed

Derivative / protein (milk components)

Dry / powder / solids

Evaporated

Malted

Milkfat

Half-and-half (half whole milk, half cream)

Butter-based / cheese-based

Butter, Butterfat, Butter oil,  Butter ester(s)

Buttermilk

Ghee

Cheese

Cottage cheese

Curds

Cream-based / desserts

Cream / artificial cream

Sour cream, Sour cream solids

Half-and-half (half cream, half whole milk)

Puddings

Custard

Yoghurt

Ice cream

Casein-based / whey based

Casein: a milk protein found in milk, yoghurt, cheese, infant formulas and dietary supplements.

Casein / casein hydrolysate

Caseinates (in all forms)

Whey: the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled & strained, a byproduct of cheese / casein.

Whey (in all forms)

Whey protein (aka lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate)

Whey protein hydrolysate

Lactose-based ingredients

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products.

Lactose

Lactic acid starter culture / bacteria

Tagatose (sweetener produced when milk is heated)

Other foods possibly containing milk

Artificial butter flavour

Baked goods / desserts

Breads

Breakfast foods (cereals, pancakes, waffles etc.)

Caramel / chocolate

Foods brushed / glazed

Margarine (may contain whey or lactose)

Nisin (food preservative)

Non-dairy products (may contain casein)

Nougat

Pasta

Powdered soups / sauces

Processed meats (may use casein as a binder)

Snack foods (tortillas, chips, crackers etc)

Tuna fish (may contain casein)

Cross-contamination also possible during foodservice / manufacturing.

Click here to view / download our ‘Crustaceans allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is a crustacean allergy?

A crustacean is a type of shellfish, which includes prawns, crab and lobster. When a person who is allergic to a crustacean eats it, protein in the crustacean binds to specific Ige antibodies made by their immune system.

This triggers an immune reaction, causing symptoms which might be mild, but could also be life-threatening.

Shellfish allergy is the most common food allergy in adults and among the most common in children. They are usually lifelong.

Highlighting crustacean ingredients on labels

Those who suffer from a crustacean allergy need to be able to easily identify these ingredients on food labels.

ALL types of crustaceans and any products made from them – even if containing minute quantities – must be clearly labelled with ‘Crustaceans’ emboldened – e.g.:

‘King Prawns [Crustaceans]’, ‘Lobster [Crustaceans]’, ‘Crayfish [Crustaceans]’.

Crustaceans

Crayfish

Lobster

Crab

Langoustine / Norway Lobster / Scampi

Prawn

Shrimp

Foods possibly containing crustaceans

Crustacean shellfish can be hidden in food, or not obvious by sight or smell. Foods include:

Thai & South-East Asian cuisine often contains shellfish either mixed with other foods – such as prawn fried rice and prawn crackers – or disguised in stocks or sauces – such as shrimp sauce & shrimp paste

Batters /crumb coatings used for scampi, fish fingers or seafood sticks

Rice dishes such as paella, fried rice & sushi rolls

Fish soups such as bisques & bouillabaisse

Stews or casseroles such as seafood chowder, gumbo, jambalaya, fritto misto, and etouffee

Pizza toppings such as prawn

Foods cooked in the same batter or oil

Cross-contamination

Cross-contact has the potential to happen in any area where food is handled, such as fish markets, a food processing factory or a catering outlet.

In particular, prawn allergens can be very robust and are not easily broken down by heating or cooking.

The allergy-causing protein can become airborne in cooking vapours or be present in oil used to cook prawns, for example in a fryer or a wok.

Click here to view / download our ‘Soya allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is a soya allergy?

When a person who is allergic to soya eats it, protein in the soya binds to specific Ige antibodies made by their immune system.

This triggers an immune reaction, causing symptoms which might be mild, but could also be life-threatening.

Soya allergy most commonly affects infants & young children. However, some individuals remain allergic into adulthood.

Soya facts

Soya beans – also known as soya, soy, soybeans and soy beans – are a member of the legume family.

Soya is widely used in foods and is difficult to avoid – as many as 60% of manufactured foods contain soya.

Highlighting soya ingredients on labels

Those who suffer from a soya allergy need to be able to easily identify these ingredients on food labels.

Terms such as ‘soya’ or ‘soy’ are sufficient to indicate the soybean origin. However, less common terms such as tofu or edamame (immature soybeans) may not be recognised as originating from soya, so its clear presence in foods needs to be indicated & emboldened for soya products or derivatives – e.g. ‘Tofu, Soya Bean’.

The following soya products are exempt from requiring labelling in the ingredients list:

Fully refined soya fat & oil (except cold-pressed oil)

Natural mixed tocopherols (E306), natural D-alpha tocopherols, natural D-alpha tocopherol acetate and natural D-alpha tocopherol succinate from soya sources

Vegetable oils derived phytosterols and phytosterol esters from soya sources

Plant stanol ester produced from vegetable oil sterols from soya sources

Different types of soya used as flavouring

Soya whole beans

Soya flour

Soya / soy sauce

Soya oil

Other soya usages in foods

Texturiser (texturised vegetable protein)

Emulsifier (soya lecithin)

Protein filler

Soya-based foods / containing soya

Soya protein isolate

Soya shortening

Soya protein

Soya albumin

Soya bean

Soyasauce

Soya flavouring

Soya flour

Soya gum

Soya lecithin (E322)

Soya milk

Soya nuts

Soya oil

Soya starch

Soya infant formula

Soya margarine

Soya yoghurts

Soya desserts

Miso paste

Tempeh

Natto

Tofu / Tofutti / bean curd

Kinako (roasted soya flour)

Kouridofu (frozen tofu)

Nimame

Edamame

Okara

Soja

Yuba

Teriyaki sauce

Terms that may indicate the presence of soya

Vegetable broth

Vegetable oil

Vegetable protein

Vegetable paste

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (HVP)

Hydrolysed Plant Proteins (HPP)

Foods that may contain soya

Desserts & confectionary

Frozen dessert

Cakes and biscuits (confectionery with a biscuit base)

Chocolates (especially those with cream centres)

Snack bars

Dairy-based

Milk (coffee whiteners) or cream replacers

Margarine

Cheese substitutes

Ice cream

Sandwich spread / mayonnaise / salad creams

Flour & potato-based

Bread

Pasta / pizza bases

Breakfast cereals

Pancake and waffle mixes

Crisps

Flavoured crisps

Crackers

Meats & meals

Meat products (cold cuts, beef burgers, meat paste/pies, minced beef, sausages, & hotdogs)

Ready–meals (convenience meals)

Vegetarian meals

Chinese foods

Liquid meal replacers

Soups & condiments

Soups (canned / tinned or packet)

Sauces (including Worcester sauce, sweet & sour sauce, Teriyaki sauce, stock cubes, gravy powders and some cook-in sauces)

Seasoned salt

Fruit, veg & baby

Commercial fruit products

Vegetable products

Baby foods

Click here to view / download our ‘Peanuts allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is a peanut allergy?

When a person with this allergy eats a peanut, their immune system reacts to the food’ s protein.

This triggers an immune reaction, causing symptoms which range from mild to severely life-threatening. Sensitivity may be so great that even a kiss from someone eating peanuts may trigger a reaction.

Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children, affecting around 1 in 50 in the UK. Infants with eczema and/or an egg allergy are at a higher risk of developing it.

Peanut facts

Peanuts are part of the legume family of plants, which grow under the ground – sometimes called groundnuts.

Peanuts are a separate allergen to the “nuts” allergen, which only comprises nuts that grow in trees, although some people with peanut allergen are also allergic to tree nuts.

Highlighting peanut ingredients on labels

Those with this allergy need to be able to easily identify all ingredients which contain peanuts on food labels.

Whilst also known as ‘groundnuts’, to avoid confusion with’ground/powdered nuts’ – such as almond nuts or a mix of nuts and peanuts – the term ‘peanuts’ must be used for products or ingredients made from them.

Its clear presence in foods needs to be indicated & emboldened – e.g.: ‘Peanuts, Palm Oil’.

Ingredient names which may refer to peanuts

Monkey nuts

Arachis hypogaea

Cacahuete

China nuts

Earthnut

Groundnuts

Goober nut / pea

Nut meat / nut meal

Nut pieces

Ingredients containing peanuts

Oils (refined & unrefined)

Groundnut oil

Arachis / peanut oil

Cold-pressed, expelled or extruded (gourmet) peanut oil

Both refined and unrefined peanut oil must be labelled with reference to the presence of peanut as an allergen.

Ingredients that may contain peanuts

Supplements & flavourings

Peanut protein hydrolysate

Hydrolysed protein

Hydrolysed plant / vegetable protein

Kernel paste

Foods that may contain peanuts

Southeast Asian, Indian & Mexican cuisine

Including:

Noodle dishes

Rice dishes

Curry dishes

Chilli dishes

Spring rolls

Dipping sauces etc

Stews

Soups

Other sauces & dressings

Barbeque

Enchilada

Hot

Pesto

Gravy

Mole

Salad dressing

Sugary snacks & desserts

Sweets / chocolate bars

Nougat

Marzipan

Biscuits

Ice creams

Puddings

Baked goods

Breakfast foods

Granola

Grains

Pancakes

Cross-contamination & precautionary allergen labelling

Nut-free foods can accidentally come into contact with peanut proteins from foods produced in the same factory. Snacks and dry foods are most at risk.

Some food manufacturers include voluntary ‘May contain’ and ‘made in factory’ statements on labels, to highlight a potential allergy risk.

Confusingly, the term ‘May contain nuts’ sometimes includes peanuts as well as nuts.

Click here to view / download our ‘Eggs allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is an egg allergy?

This is when a person’s immune system is sensitive to protein found in the egg white and yolk of (hen’s) eggs.

When eating eggs, it triggers an immune reaction ranging from mild to severely life-threatening – it can depend on the qty eaten and how they were cooked.

Touching raw egg or eggshells can also cause a skin reaction in people with a very high sensitivity.

An allergy to other species of bird eggs as well is likely.

Most common in babies and young children, it’s rare to not outgrow egg allergy by – or to develop it in – adult life. Infants with eczema / another allergy are at a higher risk.

Highlighting egg ingredients on labels

Those with an egg allergy need to be able to easily identify all ingredients which contain egg on food labels.

The clear presence of ingredients containing egg needs to be indicated by emboldening ‘Egg’ in the ingredient
name – e.g.: Egg White.

All species of bird eggs need to be declared in ingredients and emboldened as ‘Egg’.

Food preparation’s effect on egg allergy

When cooked under certain conditions, heat can cause the structure of egg protein to change, reducing its likelihood to cause an allergic reaction.

As a result, some people with an egg allergy can eat baked foods containing egg, but they would have an allergic reaction to eating raw or lightly cooked egg.

Foods containing egg

This allergen series is designed as a sanity check for food producers of all levels of experience and scale.

It is therefore worth clarifying that you would expect to find egg in the following foods:

Cakes, custard, french toast, fried rice, marshmallow, mayonnaise, meringues, mousses, noodles, pancakes, pasta, quiche, souffles, waffles, and yorkshire pudding.

Often overlooked foods containing egg

Breaded foods: Often use egg to bind the breadcrumbs to the food

Consommé: Uses egg white to clarify the broth

Crab sticks: Contain eggs

Marshmallow: Made with egg whites

Meatballs and meatloaf: Often use egg as a binder

Nougat: Made with egg whites

Protein shakes: Often include egg white powder

Quorn: Made with eggs

Salad dressing: Often include mayonnaise like Russian dressing, Caesar salad dressing

Egg in processing agents

As well as thoroughly checking that all recipe ingredients you would expect to contain egg allergen are emboldened on your food labelling, if you’ve used egg as processing agent – e.g. using it as a spray – you need to include it in your ingredient list as well.

Click here to view / download our ‘Mustard allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is mustard allergy?

This is when a person’s immune system is sensitive to protein found in mustard seeds and other parts of the
mustard plant.

When eating foods containing mustard, it triggers an immune reaction ranging from mild to severely life-threatening. The mustard protein is heat resistant, so causes the same reaction even after cooking.

Mustard allergy is thought to be rare in the UK, although limited research has been conducted to date.

Those with hay fever caused by allergy to mugwort pollen protein may react to mustard’s similar protein. However,
this is not a common allergy in the UK.

What is mustard?

Mustard is made from the seeds and other parts of the mustard plant, which belongs to the Brassica family.

Three species of mustard seed are widely used in the food industry: white/yellow, black, and brown.

Other mustard plant derivates

The term ‘mustard’ encompasses its seed, powder and liquid forms.

Other parts of the mustard plant used in foods include:

Mustard leaves

Sprouted mustard seeds

Mustard flour

Table mustard

Mustard oils

Mustard seed oils

Mustard oleoresins

Highlighting mustard ingredients on labels

Those with a mustard allergy need to be able to easily identify all ingredients which contain mustard on food labels.

The labelling rules apply to all species and parts of the mustard plant used in foods.

The clear presence of ingredients containing mustard needs to be indicated by emboldening
‘Mustard’ in the ingredient name – e.g.: Mustard Seeds, Salt.

Foods containing mustard

Mustard seeds and oil are commonly used in many cuisines worldwide.

It can be hard to detect when eaten as its taste, smell and appearance can be masked by other ingredients.

This allergen series is designed as a sanity check for food producers of all levels of experience and scale.

It is therefore worth clarifying that you would expect to find mustard in the following foods: breads, curries,
marinades, meat products, salad dressings, sauces and soups.

Other foods that may contain mustard

Pickles and relishes

Brines and brined foods
(cured meats etc)

Bechamel/white sauces

Cheese sauces

Gravies

Mayonnaise

Click here to view / download our ‘fish allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is fish allergy?

This is when a person’s immune system is sensitive to proteins found in finned fish. The main allergenic protein is parvalbumin, which is found in higher concentrations in white fish species, but can be found in all species. Allergy to other types of fish proteins is less common.

When eating raw or cooked foods containing fish, it triggers an immune reaction ranging from mild to severely life-threatening.

Those with fish allergy are usually allergic to more than one variety of finned fish, as they contain similar proteins.

Fish allergy is common in adults and often develops in childhood. Although some outgrow it, it can be lifelong.

Highlighting fish ingredients on labels

Those with a fish allergy need to be able to easily identify all ingredients which contain fish on food labels.

The labelling rules apply to ALL species of finned fish, fish oils and caviar.

Foods products containing these must be clearly emboldened with ‘Fish’ – e.g.: Cod [Fish]

The following fish products are exempt from requiring labelling in the ingredients list:

Fish gelatine used as carrier for vitamin or carotenoid preparations

Fish gelatine or Isinglass used as a fining agent in beer and wine

Foods containing fish

Fish is commonly used in many cuisines worldwide.

This allergen series is designed as a sanity check for food producers of all levels of experience and scale.

There are many cuisines which you would expect to find fish in, so the following list instead highlights
foods that may not obviously contain white fish, which are often overlooked..

Foods that may not obviously contain fish

Worcestershire sauce

Gentleman’s relish (aka Patum Peperium)

Scampi (often contains white fish)

Salad nicoise

BBQ sauce

Bouillabaisse

Caesar salad / dressing

Fish stock cubes

Cross-contamination

Cross-contamination of finned fish proteins onto shellfish can occur in environments where both types of seafood are handled or sold. These include fishmongers, food processing factories and catering outlets.

Cross-contamination of fish proteins to other food types can also occur if they are cooked or fried in the same oil – e.g. chips cooked in oil used to fry fish.

Click here to view / download our ‘lupin allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is lupin allergy?

This is when a person’s immune system is sensitive to proteins found in the edible lupin beans produced by certain species of lupin flower.

When eating foods containing lupin beans or the ingredients derived from them, it triggers an immune reaction ranging from mild to severely life-threatening.

Lupin allergy is much less common in the UK compared to mainland Europe, as lupin is rarely used as an ingredient in UK foods.

Lupin facts

The flour from ground lupin beans is used in certain types of foods.

In addition, the lupin beans themselves are popular as a food in mediterranean cuisine.

As part of the legume family, the lupin allergen contains similar proteins to the peanut allergen, so certain people can be allergic to both.

Highlighting lupin ingredients on labels

Those with a lupin allergy need to be able to easily identify all ingredients which contain lupin on food labels.

The labelling rules apply to both lupin beans (also known as lupin seeds and lupine) and all products derived from them, such as lupin flour.

Foods products containing these must be clearly emboldened with ‘Lupin’ – e.g.: Lupins, Mature Seeds, Raw

Foods containing lupin

Lupin is rarely used as an ingredient in UK foods.

However, it is increasingly used in European, Australian and U.S. foods, so may be found in supplier ingredients imported from these countries.

Foods / ingredients from these countries which may contain lupin include, but are not limited to…

Baked goods – e.g. pastries, pies, biscuits and breads etc.

Pancakes, waffles, crepes

Processed meats – e.g. burgers, sausages

Pizzas

Pasta & noodles

Products free from gluten or soy

Click here to view / download our ‘celery allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is celery allergy?

This is when a person’s immune system is sensitive to raw celery, as it mistakes the food for pollen due to the fact that they both contain a very similar protein.

Most commonly, those who are allergic to pollens / suffer from hayfever may have a mild reaction, known as ‘pollen food syndrome’. More serious reactions are rare and usually not fatal.

Celery allergy is much less common in the UK compared to countries in Europe (e.g. France, Germany & Switzerland) where the food type is more likely to be consumed raw.

Celery food forms

The term ‘celery’ encompasses celery sticks and celery root (celeriac), as well as any part of the celery plant and other forms that originate from it, including:

Celery leaf

Celery seeds

Celery oil

Celery salt

Celery spice

Celery seed oil

Celery seed oleoresin

Highlighting celery ingredients on labels

Those with a celery allergy need to be able to easily identify all ingredients which contain celery on food labels.

The labelling rules apply to all ingredients derived from celery.

Foods products containing these must be clearly emboldened with ‘Celery’ – e.g.: Celery, Onions

Foods containing celery

Raw celery in all its various forms is not commonly used as an ingredient in UK recipes.

However, it can be hidden in products / ingredients – especially those imported from European countries.

These include, but are not limited to:

Foods that may contain celery

Canned soups / broths / stews

Stock cubes / gravy granules

Condiments (e.g. Marmite)

Sauces / dressings

Spice mixes / seasonings

Favoured crisps

Cured bacon (may contain celery juice)

Batter for frozen foods

Click here to view / download our ‘nuts allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is nut allergy?

When a person with this allergy eats a certain type/s of nut, their immune system reacts to the nut/s’ protein.

This triggers an immune reaction, causing symptoms which range from mild to severely life-threatening. Sensitivity may be so great that even a kiss from someone eating nuts may trigger a reaction.

In the UK, nut (aka tree nut) allergy most commonly affects children (2%), and especially those under 5, who rarely outgrow it. Older children and adults (0.5%) can be affected, with the allergy developing later in life.

Which species of nuts are included?

Almond

Hazelnut

Walnut

Cashew

Pecan

Brazil

Pistachio

Macadamia / Queensland

Excludes:

Chestnuts

Pine

Coconut

Related food allergies

The ‘nut’ allergen only comprises nuts that grow in trees, so peanuts, which grow in the ground, are a separate standard UK/EU allergen.

People with a nut allergy sometimes have a peanut allergy too, as they contain similar proteins.

In addition, people who suffer from ‘pollen food syndrome’ can also suffer from nut allergy, as they contain similar proteins.

Highlighting nut ingredients on labels

Those with a nut allergy need to be able to easily identify all ingredients which contain nuts on food labels.

The labelling rules apply to all ingredients derived from nuts, except those used for making alcoholic distillates, including ethyl alcohol.

Food products containing these nut ingredients must be clearly emboldened with ‘nuts’ – e.g.: Brown Sugar, Hazelnuts

Foods containing nuts

Nuts are a commonly used ingredient in multicultural cuisines, particularly in Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indonesian, Indian, and Mexican dishes.

In Europe, they are commonly found in baked goods, cereals, ice cream and desserts.

They are often a core ingredient in vegan alternatives, such as nut butters & milks, and vegetarian dishes.

Foods containing nuts include, but are not limited to:

Multicultural cuisines

Including:

Curry powders

Dipping sauces

Stir fried dishes

Sauces

Nut oils

Sauces & dressings

Gravy

Pesto

Baked Goods

Bread & pastries

Cakes, biscuits & crackers

Cereals & health / snack bars

Salads & dressings

Sugary snacks & desserts

Sweets / chocolate bars

Nougat

Marzipan

Ice creams 

Desserts

Gluten-free alternatives (may contain almond meal)

Nut oils

Cross-contamination & precautionary allergen labelling

Nut-free foods can accidentally come into contact with nut proteins from foods produced in the same factory. Snacks and dry foods are most at risk.

Some food manufacturers include voluntary ‘May contain’ and ‘made in factory’ statements on labels, to highlight a potential allergy risk.

Click here to view / download our ‘molluscs allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is a mollusc allergy?

A mollusc is a type of shellfish which is soft-bodied inside, such as clams, oysters, and squid. Some specie shave a hard shell, which may open and close.

When a person who is allergic to molluscs eats them, protein in the mollusc binds to specific Ige antibodies made by their immune system. This triggers an immune reaction, causing symptoms which range from mild to severely life-threatening.

Shellfish allergy is the most common food allergy in adults and among the most common in children. It is usually lifelong.

People with a mollusc food allergy can be allergic to multiple species of molluscs.

In addition, due to the similarity between the protein allergen in molluscs and crustaceans, some people are allergic to both types of shellfish.

Highlighting mollusc ingredients on labels

Those who suffer from a molluscs allergy need to be able to easily identify these ingredients on food labels. ALL types of molluscs and any products made from them – even if containing minute quantities – must be clearly labelled with ‘Molluscs’ emboldened – e.g.: Mussels [Molluscs]

Molluscs include:

Mussels

Clams

Cockles

Edible Sea Snails (Whelks)

Edible Land Snails (L’escargot)

Periwinkles

Scallops

Oysters

Abalone

Octopus

Squid (Calarami)

Sea Urchin

Foods containing molluscs

Molluscs are a commonly used ingredient in multicultural cuisines native to South-East Asia.

Molluscs can be hidden as they’re mixed in with other foods such as rice, or disguised in stocks or sauces. They may not be obvious by sight or smell. Cross-contamination can occur when foods are cooked in the same oil already used to cook shellfish, or any area where shellfish is handled, such as fish markets.

Foods containing molluscs may include:

Soups

Fish stews

Seafood chowder

Fishcakes and pies

Sauces – e.g. oyster-based

Fish stock cubes

Oyster stout beers

Black risotto

Paella

Pizza toppings – e.g. calarami

Click here to view / download our ‘sulphur dioxide & sulphites allergen’ visual guide in a PDF version on our LinkedIn page.

What is a sulphites allergy?

Sulphites, including sulphur dioxide, are a group of substances found in many foods & beverages. They can occur naturally, but are also an additive used in many products to preserve their shelf life, flavour and colour.

Although it’s rare to have a sulphite allergy, in the UK around 13% of asthma sufferers can experience asthma-like symptoms when eating foods containing sulphites. Those without asthma are rarely affected (less than 2% of the general population).

What are sulphites allergy symptoms?

Unlike other standard allergens, a sulphite reaction usually doesn’t involve the immune system. Instead, it can result in allergy-like symptoms, which include trouble breathing, or stomach pain and vomiting.

However, in very rare cases it can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction to people who have an IgE antibody to sulphites.

Highlighting sulphites ingredients on labels

Those who suffer from a sulphites allergy need to be able to easily identify these ingredients on food labels.

Products containing sulphur dioxide &/or sulphites at concentrations of more than 10mg per kg / litre in terms of the total SO2 within the product, must be clearly labelled. This includes when an ingredient naturally contains or has been treated with a sulphite, or the product contains a functional additive E-number containing sulphite – e.g.: Dried Apple [Sulphites], Preservative: Sodium Metabisulphite E223.

Sulphites E Numbers

Sulphites should be declared on food labelling by their chemical name:

Sulphur dioxide (E220)

Sodium sulphite (E221)

Sodium hydrogen sulphite (E222)

Sodium metabisulphite (E223)

Potassium metabisulphite (E224)

Calcium sulphite (E226)

Calcium hydrogen sulphite (E227)

Potassium hydrogen sulphite (E228)

Foods containing sulphites

Sulphites are commonly found in a wide range of processed foods and beverages, particularly meats, fruits, vegetables, and non-alcoholic drinks.

Worldwide, there are differing patterns of use of sulphites in foods and beverages.

Also, in some countries sulphites are banned in certain foods – e.g. in the USA there is a ban on sulphites in meat.

Foods containing sulphites may include:

Processed meats

Fresh / frozen prawns

Dried fruits & vegetables

Fruit jams

Salad dressings

Condiments

Pickled foods & vinegar

Tofu / bean curd

Guacamole

Maraschino cherries

Non-alcoholic drinks – soft, concentrates & cordials

Wine, beer & cider

Vegetable & fruit juices

Tinned coconut milk

NutriCalc allergen expert papers for additional information

We regularly publish food science, nutrition and labelling ‘expert papers’ written by our in-house experts. Here are our papers on the subject of allergens:

April 3, 2024 – Food Allergen Labelling – Let’s Be Clear

August 25th, 2022 – Adding Dairy Products to Your Recipes: Are You Milking Your Products’ Potential?

June 16, 2021 – Eliminating Allergens in Your Products to Help Boost Sales!

March 24, 2021 – Natasha’s Law Guidance – Our Best Practice – Allergen Labelling

October 23, 2020 – Allergen Labelling in Canada

NutriCalc – food nutrition calculation, allergen checks & labelling

If you’re creating product recipes, our simple to use NutriCalc nutrition calculation & labelling software can help to simplify your management of allergens.

Easily embolden any of the 14 standard allergens required to be highlighted by law if they’re in the ingredients list on your product’s food labelling.

For your peace of mind, the software also guides you step-by-step through vital ingredient allergen checks.

The standard allergens feature also includes the ability to provide your customers or suppliers with other useful information – e.g. retailers’ at a glance customer signage such as ‘Contains Gluten’, ‘Contains Wheat’, ‘Contains Molluscs’ etc.

With NutriCalc you can also add your own custom allergens (customers on our Premium plan) if, for example, the legislation in your country identifies different allergens to the UK/EU.

As a NutriCalc subscriber you can always reach out to us via live chat, email or telephone (customers on our Premium plan) for a speedy same-day response during UK 9-5 office hours.

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