Food allergies

Some people have a sensitivity to certain foods that non-sufferers would find harmless. When someone has a food allergy, their immune system reacts to a particular food as if it's not safe.  A severe food allergy can cause a life-threatening reaction. Food intolerance, however, does not involve the immune system and is not generally life-threatening.

It is important that your staff are aware of the allergens they provide in the food they sell, to enable them to cater for customers with food allergies and intolerances.

You need to understand your processes and products and identify, manage and communicate allergen risks to your staff and customers who may have allergies to certain foods.  

The Food Standards Agency Scotland can provide up to date information on all of this and more.

Allergen management can easily be done in three steps. 


Step 1 - Identify allergens in your business

The table below lists the most common allergens and provides examples of foods which typically contain them:


Examples of typical foods which contain this allergen. (Please not this list is not exhaustive)

Cereals containing Gluten eg wheat, rye, barley, oats

Bread, pasta, cakes, pastry, sauces, soups, batter, stock cubes, breadcrumbs, semolina, couscous, some meat products.

Celery and celeriac.  eg stalks, seeds and leaves

Salads, soups, celery salt, some meat products.


Cakes, sauces, pasta, mayonnaise, some meat products, glazed products.

Fish, Crustaceans and Molluscs  eg all fish, prawns, lobster, crab, clams, langoustines, mussels, oysters

Some salad dressings, fish extracts, oils and paste, soy and Worcestershire sauces, relishes.


Milk powder, yoghurt, butter, cheese, cream, ghee, foods glazed with milk, ice cream.


Mustard paste, seeds, leaves, flour, powder and liquid mustard, salad dressings, marinades, soups, sauces, curries, some meat products.


Arachis oil, peanut butter, flour, satay sauce, refined peanut oil.

Other nuts. eg walnuts, cashews, pecan, Brazil, pistachio, macadamia, Queensland nuts.


In sauces, desserts, bread, crackers, ice cream, praline (hazelnut), nut butters, essences and oils, marzipan and frangipane (almond), pesto, nut salad dressings.

Sesame Seeds

Oil or paste, tahini, houmous, halva, furikake, Gomashio, bread

Soya eg flour, tofu, or beancurd, textured Soya, protein, soy sauce, edamame beans.

Some ice cream, sauces, desserts, meat products, vegetarian products.

SulphurDioxide and Sulphites

Some meat products, stock cubes, bouillon mix, fruit juice drinks, dried fruit/ vegetables, wine, beer, cider.

Lupin Seeds and Flour

Some types of bread and pastries.

Step 2 - Manage allergen risks

This can be done by adapting the following guidance for your business.

Deliveries and labels:

  • check that the food matches your order.  If it does not match, check the ingredients of the replacement product
  • be aware of hidden ingredients eg nuts used in a base of a cheesecake
  • any foods whose ingredients are unknown to you will require further investigation to declare allergen information

Storage and avoiding cross contamination:

  • store foods that contain allergens separate from other foods.  Consider using colour coded containers
  • store foods that contain allergens in powdered form such as milk powder in air- tight containers
  • do not lose the original product description following unpacking, decanting and storage
  • keep a record of all foods and ingredients purchased by you to ensure traceability
  • put in place steps to prevent cross contamination between foods that contain allergens and other foods

Preparing dishes:

  • know ALL the ingredients in the food you handle to ensure you provide accurate allergen advice to customers
  • whenever preparing or serving food for an allergy sufferer always:
    • use a separate area to prepare the food
    • clean and disinfect the work surface, equipment and serving utensils first
    • wash your hands thoroughly
    • check all ingredients including secondary ones, for example, thickeners for sauces
    • do not cook food in oil in which you have cooked other foods
    • do not remove allergenic ingredients such as nuts from a dish and call it allergy free as residues can remain in the dish
    • when displaying food in buffets or displays lay out dishes in a way that minimises the risk of cross contamination

Step 3 - Communicate with your staff and customers

Staff Training:

  • train all your staff in allergy awareness
  • make sure that all staff understand that they should never guess whether an allergen is/isn't present in food
  • ensure kitchen staff inform the service staff on last minute recipe changes

Communicating with your customers:

  • let customers with allergies know that you are allergy aware and give advice on which foods to avoid
  • where possible design your menu so that allergenic ingredients are stated

Food Advice
Tel: 01592 583228 Contact Food Advice online
By Post: Fife House North Street Glenrothes Fife KY7 5LT
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