Allergen guidance for food businesses

Food business operators in the retail and catering sector must provide allergen information and follow labelling rules as set out in food law.

This means that food business operators have to:

  • provide allergen information to the consumer for both prepacked (any food put into packaging before being placed on sale) and loose (non-prepacked) food and drink
  • handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation.

For information on the 14 allergens please click here. They include cereals containing gluten, eggs, nuts, milk etc.

Different allergen labelling rules apply depending on how the food is provided.

Pre-packed for direct sale

Prepacked for direct sale products are foods packed on the same premises from which they are being sold.

Common foods that can fall into this category include sandwiches, salads and pies made and sold from the location they are made.

From October 2021, foods need to have a label with a full ingredients list with allergenic ingredients emphasised within it. This is in line with legislation and more information is available at allergen labelling information for Prepacked for Direct Sale (PPDS). 

These changes ensure that essential information is available to help people with a food allergy or intolerance make safe food choices.

Foods pre-packed for direct sale are foods prepared on the premises where they are sold.  Currently for these products, allergen information can be provided in the same way as for non-prepacked (loose) foods.

This does not apply to food products made for sale at retail outlets in other locations, this is considered pre-packed and must have allergen information provided in writing.

Non-prepacked (loose) foods

If you provide non-prepacked foods, you must supply allergen information for every item that contains any of the 14 allergens.  These foods include:

  • foods sold loose in retail outlets e.g. loose items sold at a delicatessen counter, a bakery, a butcher’s,
  • foods which are not sold prepacked e.g. meals served in a restaurant and takeaway food

Food businesses must make sure that staff receive training on allergens.  The Food Standards Agency provides free online training for businesses which can be accessed here

When allergen information is provided as part of a conversation with a customer, this should be backed up by written information to ensure it is accurate and consistent.   If you provide allergen free food then you may wish to complete and display the following – Guidance Control of allergens in the kitchen.

Further advice is available on the Food Standards Agency Website.