Any businesses in the UK dealing with food and drinks must be aware of, and also display information about the 14 allergens.
It’s imperative for anyone dealing with food and drink to be aware of allergens and also to be able to offer complete transparency. Customers have the right to see a list of allergens for anything they wish to purchase. While people can have allergies to many ingredients, it’s only a requirement for businesses to list the 14 main allergens.
The 14 Allergens & Natasha’s Law 2021
Information on the 14 allergens are required to be displayed by law as set out in the EU Food Information For Consumers Regulation. A new law which came into effect from October 2021 called “Natasha’s Law” covers information provided on pre-packed food.
This new amendment was brought in by the UK Government after the death of Natasha. She suffered a fatal allergic reaction when an ingredient in her pre-packed sandwich wasn’t declared, causing her death. This requirement is a key part of food safety law, and one that all businesses should take seriously.
What are the 14 Allergens?
The 14 Allergens are as follows:
Molluscs cover particular types of fish and cover all shellfish, bivalves, and cephalopods. People with such allergies need to avoid snails, whelks, shrimp, crab, lobster, oysters, mussels, scallops, squid, and lobster. Allergies to these will include avoiding oyster sauce.
People suffering from egg allergies need to be aware that dishes such as pasta, quiches, cakes, meat, and sauces may well contain eggs. Businesses serving food with eggs must list this on their ingredient information for customers. This goes for when certain food products are glazed with eggs too.
Businesses using fish in foods such as sauces, dressings, pizzas, pasta, and stock cubes will need to list this as an allergen. Fish is one of the major food allergens and the allergy is often triggered by a protein called parvalbumin.
Lupin is often used in flour by people following a low carb/keto lifestyle and comes from the legume bean. It can be present in a wide range of food items including; pasta, bread, chocolate spread, sausages, vegetarian dishes, biscuits, and ice cream.
Often used in oriental foods such as stir fry and alternative meat dishes, soya is another of the 14 allergens. Coming from soya bean pods, soya is often used in meat-alternative dishes such as chicken-free nuggets and vegetarian sausages. It is also used as a flour improver, and as a texturing agent in confectionary. It is sometimes used in cooking oil.
Commonly used in many recipes, milk is another of the main allergens. Ice cream, cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, processed meats, and sauces all use milk-based products.
The number of people with allergies to peanuts has risen quite significantly over the years. It can be problematic because not all countries are required to state that the product may contain peanuts. In the UK, however, peanuts must be listed on the allergens information. Peanuts can be present in cakes, biscuits, curries, oil, and even some flours.
Another allergy that has become more popular is gluten-based products. Gluten can be present in a wide range of food such as; bread, cereals, cakes, biscuits, and pasta.
Often a severe allergy among people, crustaceans must be listed as an allergen in UK businesses. Crustaceans include shrimps, prawns, crabs, and scampi and this allergy can be triggered by airborne particles.
Often found in curry and meat dishes, mustard is one of the 14 allergens that are required to be listed by law. This ingredient isn’t always obvious to the naked eye or even the sense of smell. It’s often used in marinades, sauces, bread, and dressings in restaurants.
People suffering from a nut allergy are allergic to the protein found in tree nuts. Tree nuts include cashews, pecan nuts, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. Nuts can be present in a lot of dishes and are popular in curry and Asian dishes such as stir-fries. Nuts can also be present in baked goods, sauces, ice cream, and desserts such as tarts.
Another ever-increasingly common allergy is one to sesame which is found in bread, pastes, sauces, hummus, and breadsticks. They can be served whole such as on burger buns or crushed into dishes.
Not a very common allergy here in the UK, however, celery has been added as an allergen to ensure the well-being of everyone. Allergies to celery also include avoiding celeriac and these can be found in soups, sauces, stock, salads, and sometimes meat dishes.
Sulphites, or sulphur dioxide, allergies are on the rare side but still listed as one of the major allergens. These food additives are the preservatives used in some beverages, dried fruit, and meats.
Awareness Of The 14 Allergens
When dealing with food that is being distributed within the community, it’s your responsibility to know the main allergens. It’s also important these are listed and made available to anyone who wants to see this information. For this reason, it’s hugely beneficial to take part in an online allergen course to refresh your knowledge. These courses are readily available online and can be done in your own time.