Renfrewshire Council

Allergens advice

People with allergies can have a reaction called anaphylaxis (pronounced anna-fill-axis), which can be fatal if it isn't treated immediately, usually with an injection of adrenaline (epinephrine).

Research tells us that consumers suffering from food allergies currently have low levels of confidence in eating out and purchasing food because of a lack of information(see the FSA quick guide to food allergies and intolerances).

The Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIC) came into force in December 2014.

The regulations require:

  • 14 specific allergens to be emphasised in the ingredients list of prepacked foods using at least one of the following formats: italics, bold, underlined or colour.
  • Information on these 14 allergens, when used as ingredients, must also be provided on loose (non-prepacked) foods, in an obvious place, for example on a: menu, chalkboard, recipe card or allergy folder.

This means food businesses must label, display and provide allergen ingredients information correctly.

Consumers will see changes in how allergens are presented on labels of prepacked food and can also ask for information on any of the specific allergens in non-prepacked food that they buy.

Food businesses are required to comply with the new requirements.

It is important that anyone handling or preparing food, in any context:

  • is fully aware of the foods that may trigger an allergic reaction, and
  • knows what precautions need to be taken to ensure that customers do not eat a food that they are trying to avoid.

Key message to food businesses

  • It is a legal requirement for food businesses to comply with the EU FIC
  • Applies to all food suppliers, wholesalers and manufacturers
  • Includes all small and medium businesses that make, provide or sell prepacked food or make, serve or sell non-packaged (loose) food.
  • By complying with the EU FIC rules, you give your customers confidence and assurance about the information you are providing, which could improve your business, as safer food means better business
  • Renfrewshire food safety team, in collaboration with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and other external training companies, are able to support food businesses to comply with the new requirements.

Food businesses that fail to comply with these Regulations face a sliding scale of sanctions. This will range from further advice to formal enforcement action with fines up to a maximum £5000.

What is your responsibility as a food business

Remember these key messages when dealing with dietary requests such as food allergies:

  • Make sure the information you provide is complete and accurate.
  • Identify if any of the 14 specific allergens are included as ingredients by using the FSA Chef's Allergen Menu Chart.
  • Keep up to date ingredient information on all foods and ingredients.
  • Consider the risk of cross-contamination when preparing food.
  • Are any specific allergens in your ingredients?
  • consider cooking oils, dressings, toppings, sauces and garnishes etc.
  • update allergen information if you change the recipe or the ingredients used.
  • ensure work surfaces and equipment are thoroughly cleaned before use and after using any specific allergens.
  • Always wash your hands before preparing any food and after handling specific allergens
  • Make sure your staff are allergen aware.
  • Establish a procedure for dealing with allergen information requests - ensure your staff are aware of this procedure
  • Ensure your staff are aware of any changes to recipes (e.g addition or substitution of ingredients)

Key message for consumers

  • The EU FIC enables you to make a safe and informed choice about what to eat when eating out or what to buy when you shop for food
  • You can ask for ingredients information on any of the 14 specific allergens in the food and, if it is not provided, you can take action by emailing us.
  • You can feel more confident eating out and purchasing food
  • Renfrewshire Council and the FSA have information to explain the changes that the new regulation will bring, and what they will mean for you