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Ask for Allergens - advice for customers

Person taking a slice of pizza

By law, food businesses must tell you about ingredients in their food that might affect you if you have a food allergy.

How should food businesses tell me about allergens?

Businesses can tell you about allergens in one of two ways:

  • Businesses can provide allergen information in writing, for example on a menu or on a ticket near the food; or
  • They can actually tell you what's in their food. If they do this, they must display a notice telling you that allergen information is available if you ask for it.  They can display this notice on a wall, for example, or on a menu.  Then they should give you the information if you ask them to

What if I order food over the phone or online?

Businesses still need to give you information about allergens in their food.  They need to do this when you order and when the food is delivered.

What allergens must food businesses tell me about?

The law says that there are 14 allergens which businesses must tell you about.  These are:

  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Milk
  • Soya
  • Mustard
  • Lupin
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Molluscs
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Celery
  • Sulphur Dioxide (sulphites)

What about other allergens?

The law only requires food businesses to declare the 14 allergens in the list above.

People can be allergic to other ingredients in foods, such as strawberries and kiwi fruit.  So if you ask for food without other ingredients the business must check that the food does not contain those ingredients and is safe for you to eat.

What can consumers do?

We're encouraging customers to ask businesses for information about the ingredients in their food.

If you don't have a food allergy yourself, though, think about how you phrase your request.  People who suffer severe reactions don't use the word 'allergy' lightly.  Businesses need to take any requests seriously.

What if the business can't provide information about allergens when I ask?

If a business can't provide allergen information or if you believe the information they provide is wrong, tell our partners, Citizens Advice.

You can call them on 0808 223 1133 (freephone).

We'll use your information to help the business understand what they have to do.

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