Food allergens

Food Standards - allergens and labelling

Allergens

Food businesses must ensure all food placed on the market for sale are correctly labelled in compliance with the Food Information Regulations (FIR) 2014.

The FIR require food businesses to provide allergen information to customers.

Allergens covered by the legalisation are:

  • Cereals containing gluten, namely: wheat (such as spelt and khorasan), rye, barley and oats
  • Celery
  • Crustaceans – such as prawns, crabs and lobsters
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin
  • Milk (including lactose)
  • Molluscs – such as mussels and oysters
  • Mustard
  • Tree nuts – including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, Queensland nuts and macadamia nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soyabean
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million).

Further advice is available from the Food Standards Agency.

Ealing Council also recommends that businesses sign up to the Food Standards Agency Recalls and Allergen Alerts notifications to get up to date information on any potential foods used within your business that may need to be withdrawn from sale or recalled from your customers.

Allergen training resources

There are many free allergen advice and training resources available to businesses through The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and The Chartered Trading Standards Institute. These have been developed for use by local authorities across the UK and are suitable for food businesses, food law enforcement officers and educational establishments.  

The resources are available in multiple languages including: EnglishWelshBengaliCantoneseKurdishMandarinPunjabiTurkish and Urdu,

These resources include:

  • Food allergy awareness presentation approximately 1.5 hours (including a section on PPDS - 'Pre-Packed for Direct Sale').
  • ‘Day in the life of Chloe’ and ‘Megan’s Story’ (subtitled and dubbed). This short film was originally produced by Lancashire Trading Standards; the dubbed versions are embedded within the presentation.
  • ‘Tell us if you have an allergy or intolerance’ poster. 

The Food Standards Agency also have free allergen training.

Food labelling for food manufacturers

If you produce pre-packed food, you need to follow allergen labelling requirements set out in Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers and The Food Information Regulations 2014. Pre-packed food is any food put into packaging before being placed on sale. Food is pre-packed when it:

  • Is either fully or partly enclosed by the packaging
  • Cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging
  • Is ready for sale.

The specific labelling requirements that will be required depend on what products your business sells/produces. There is a lot of free information and guidance available from the FSA (UK and Ireland) and the UK Government including: 

  1. Packaging and labelling
  2. FSA - Allergen labelling for food manufacturers
  3. Food labelling: giving food information to consumers
  4. Food standards: labelling and composition
  5. Food Allergen Labelling Technical Guidance
  6. Food Information on Pre-Packed Food Guidance

Prepacked for Direct Sale (PPDS)

Since 1 October 2021, the way food businesses must provide allergen labelling information for (PPDS) foods changed.

Food must have a label with a full ingredients list with allergenic ingredients emphasised within it. These changes will provide essential information to help people with a food allergy or intolerance to make safe choices when buying PPDS food.

What is PPDS?

There is no legal definition of PPDS foods. The current FSA interpretation for PPDS is that it applies to foods that have been packed on the same premises from which they are being sold. Food that will fall into this category could include meat pies, sandwiches or desserts made on site, packaged on site, and then sold from the premises in which they are made. It is expected that the customer will be able to speak with the person who made or packed the product to ask about the ingredients.

Please also see Ealing Council's PPDS leaflet for more information.

If you are unsure if you sell foods that are PPDS, please use this helpful FSA decision tool.

Outline of PPDS rules

PPDS food must clearly display the following information on the packaging:

  1. Name of the food
  2. Full ingredients list
  3. Allergenic ingredients emphasised (for example in bold, italics or a different color).

(The above is not a complete list, there are additional requirements depending on the ingredients in the food and you will need to make sure to include these in your label.)

The FSA has further guidance on PPDS which makes it clear the type of food covered and how they are made available to the consumer. Further information is also available within the FSA Detailed Technical Implementation Guidance.

The FSA has created guidance on PPDS that is sector specific for:

If you are providing food with meat products in PPDS, then you need to include Quantitative Ingredient Declaration (QUID) on your labelling. QUID tells a customer the percentage of meat content in the food products.

For example, a ham sandwich that is provided to customers as PPDS. The business determined there is 33% of ham in the sandwich, therefore the ingredients list would be: bread, ham (33%), lettuce etc. QUID information must be declared as a percentage. It is a legal requirement for businesses providing food with meat content to include QUID information in the ingredients list. The FSA provides further guidance.