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Managing 14 Major Allergens

Managing food safety is one of the biggest risks to any hospitality business and The Food Information Regulation says food businesses must provide information about the allergic ingredients used in food they sell/provide. It’s estimated that between 1-10% of adults and children have a food hypersensitivity (The Association of UK Dietitians (BDA), 2015). Many in the UK also suffer with sever reactions to allergens so it’s extremely important that you manage the process of storing, handling, cooking and serving correctly.

Read more about what should be included in your food safety management system if you’re unsure.

What are food allergens?

An allergen is any normally harmless substance that causes an immediate allergic reaction in a susceptible person. This means that restaurants, cafes, bars, coffee shops, in fact every type of food or drink business needs to have a good understanding of allergen types. There are 14 major allergens which need to be communicated to the customer, either on a label or through provided information such as menus.

The 14 types of allergen are:

Cereals containing Gluten

This category includes barley, rye, triticale, oats, spelt, kamut, khorasan, farro, durum, bulgar, couscous and semolina. Allergy to wheat directly is uncommon, it is the contained protein, gluten, that is the issue.

Crustaceans

This category includes lobster, crab, langoustine, prawn, shrimp and crayfish as well as derivations of these such as shrimp paste. Spoiled shellfish and fish of all types can produce histamine which can lead to a condition called scombrotoxin poisoning.

Molluscs

This category includes osters, clams, muscles, cockles, whelks, periwinkles, snails (including land snails), cuttlefish, squid and octopus as well as derivations of these such as squid ink used in pasta.

Eggs

All egg products and derivations must be considered including eggs from other birds than chickens, such as goose, duck, pigeon and quail.

Fish

All types of fish should be considered in this category although negative reactions are more prevalent in species such as cod, hake, haddock, mackerel, whiting, salmon, trout, herring, bass, swordfish, halibut and tuna.  Think about derivations such as fish oils and fish paste.

Peanuts

All egg products and derivations must be considered including eggs from other birds than chickens, such as goose, duck, pigeon and quail.

Milk

Sufferers can be allergic or intolerant to milk and the proteins it contains.

Consider all types of milk, other than cow’s milk, including goat, sheep, buffalo, yak and camel.

Lupin

These plants are commonly grown all over Europe and further afield. The plant, flower and seeds can be used in manufacturing of foods such as flour as an alternative to cereal grains.

Tree Nuts

Usually simply referred to as nuts rather than tree nuts. This category includes hazelnuts, brazil, almond, pistachio, pecan, walnut, macadamia and cashew.

 

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Sesame Seeds

Used extensively as an alternative to meat. It can be found in flour, oils and food products themselves.

This category includes bean curd, edamame beans, miso paste, textured soya protein and tofu.

Celery

Commonly used in soups, sauces and other food products, celery can be split up into several parts. All parts of the celery plant must be considered, including the seeds, spice and powder.

Mustard

Although relatively rare in the UK it still needs to be considered. Including mustard powder, leaves, seeds, flowers and oils

Sulphites and Sulphur Dioxide

These are common preservatives and antioxidants found in many manufactured foods. If they are present in volumes greater than 10mg per kilogram or 10ml per litre they must be declared on packaging.

Soya

Used extensively as an alternative to meat. It can be found in flour, oils and food products themselves.

This category includes bean curd, edamame beans, miso paste, textured soya protein and tofu.

 

 

What is a food allergen chart?

A food allergen chart is a template which records which allergens are contained within all of your menu items. It’s a critical part of your management system and also forms an important part of your communication both internally and to customers. Every food and drink business is legally required to provide accurate and complete allergy information to its customers about all food for sale so it’s really important that you have a robust but clear way to do this.

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