Food Standard Agency

Allergen rules

Allergenic ingredients must be indicated in list of ingredients with clear reference to name of the substance or product as listed in Annex II of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No.1169/2011 and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No. 78/2014 amending Annex II to Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. Annex II outlines the 14 allergens (and products thereof) that must be labelled or indicated as being present in foods and are:

*   Cereals containing gluten, namely: wheat (such as spelt and khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats

*   Crustaceans for example prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish

*   Eggs

*   Fish

*   Peanuts

*   Soybeans

*   Milk (including lactose)

*   Nuts; namely almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia (or Queensland) nuts

*   Celery (including celeriac)

*   Mustard

*   Sesame

*   Sulphur dioxide/sulphites, where added and at a level above 10mg/kg or 10mg/L in the finished product. This can be used as a preservative in dried fruit

*   Lupin, which includes lupin seeds and flour and can be found in types of bread, pastries and pasta

*   Molluscs like, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid

The allergenic ingredients need to be emphasised using a typeset that clearly distinguishes it from the rest of the ingredients, for example by means of the font, style or background colour. Food businesses can choose what method they want to use to emphasise the 14 allergens on their product label.

Where several ingredients or processing aids in a food originates from a single allergenic ingredient, the labelling should make this clear for each ingredient or processing aid concerned. For example, skimmed milk powder, whey (milk), lactose (milk)

Where the name of the food (such as a box of eggs or bag of peanuts) clearly refers to the allergenic ingredients concerned, there is no need for a separate declaration of the allergenic food

·         Where foods are offered to sale to the final consumer or to mass caterers without packaging, or where foods are packed on the sales premises at the consumer’s request or prepacked for direct sale, information about allergenic ingredients is mandatory and must be provided

·         Allergen information must be provided for non-prepacked foods in written or oral formats with clear signposting to where consumers can obtain this information, when it is not provided upfront

Know the law

·         There are both criminal and civil legal regimes that are relevant to the sale of foods containing allergens and the provision of 'allergen-free' lists. It is essential that these are given careful consideration.

·         The following is a brief outline of the main provisions to assist manufacturers in identifying their legal obligations. It also suggests the appropriate courses of action in respect of good manufacturing practice and the provision of information for consumers.

·         Manufacturers should seek their own legal advice as appropriate.

·         The EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) changes the way allergen information appears on labels and on food that is prepacked, sold loose or served when eating out. The EU FIC brings general and nutrition labelling rules together and simplifies and consolidates existing labelling legislation into a single framework.

·         The regulation builds on the previous allergen labelling provisions for prepacked foods as well as extending the provision of allergen information to foods sold non-prepacked or prepacked for direct sale.


·         'Prepacked food'

·         'Prepacked' foods are foods, which have been put into packaging before sale (final consumer or to mass caterers), where there is no opportunity for direct communication between producer and customer, and the contents cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging. For example, most pre-packed foods sold in supermarkets will fall under this definition, such as tinned food, ready-made meals or frozen food products.

·         'Prepacked for direct sale'

·         Generally means those foods that have been packed on the same premises as they are being sold. In these situations, it is thought that the customer would be able to speak to the person who made/packed the foods to ask about ingredients and so these foods do not generally have to be labelled with ingredients by law. Foods which could fall under this category are meat pies made on site, and sandwiches made and sold prepacked or not pre-packed from the premises in which they were made.

·         'Non-prepacked'(Loose foods)

·         Foods which are non-prepacked can be often described as foods sold loose. In a retail environment this would apply to any foods which are sold loose from a delicatessen counter (for example, cold meats, cheeses, quiches, pies and dips), fresh pizza, fish, salad bars, bread sold in bakery shops etc. In a catering environment this would apply to foods ready for consumption such as meals served in a restaurant, café or purchased from a takeaway.