An allergy is a reaction the body has to a particular food or substance. Allergies are very common. They're thought to affect more than 1 in 4 people in the UK at some point in their lives.
Food businesses must comply with allergen legislation. This means that you must:
provide allergen information to the consumer for both pre-packed and non-prepacked food or drink
handle and manage food allergens adequately
You also need to make sure that your staff are trained about allergens within your business.
You need to tell your customers if any food products you sell or provide contain any of the main 14 allergens as an ingredient.
The 14 allergens are:
cereals containing gluten – including wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan), rye, barley and oats
crustaceans – such as prawns, crabs and lobsters
molluscs – such as mussels and oysters
tree nuts – including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts
sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)
This applies also to the additives, processing aids and any other substances which are present in the final product. For example, sulphites, which are often used to preserve dried fruit, might still be present after the fruit is used to make chutney. If this is the case, you need to declare them.
Top tips for managing allergens in your food business:
1. Communication between staff. 2. Tell customers about allergens.
3. Ensure that allergens are stored separatelyand labelled during storage.
4. If possible use separate work surfaces and designated utensils. If not possible ensure a thorough two stage clean is carried out prior to preparing foods and all equipment has been washed and disinfected..
5. Label all foods. Effective methods include bold or underlined text and use of contrasting colours.
6. Signpost allergen information such as wall menus, menus and signage.
7. Good hygiene practices.