Food allergy

Food allergies are becoming more common.

  • 5 - 8% of children have a food allergy
  • 1 - 2% of adults have a food allergy
  • 1.92 million people have a food allergy in the UK

People with food allergies have to be extremely careful about what they eat. There can be serious consequences if they eat something they are allergic to.

Allergen awareness week is about making people more aware of this serious issue to help reduce incidences of allergic food reactions.

Allergen list

There are currently 14 food ingredients classed as an allergen. These are:

  • Cereals containing gluten, such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut and their hybridised strains
  • Peanuts (also called groundnuts)
  • Nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamias and Queensland nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fish
  • Crustaceans (includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps and prawns)
  • Molluscs (includes mussels, cockles, oysters, scallops, squid and octopus)
  • Eggs
  • Milk and milk products (including lactose)
  • Soy beans
  • Celery
  • Lupin
  • Mustard (including mustard powder and seeds)
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites at levels above 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre expressed as SO2.

What you need to do

Read labels of pre-packed foods to see if they contain any of the allergens.

Let businesses know if you have an allergy. Use cards provided by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) when ordering food.

Businesses selling food non pre-packed, such as cafes, takeaways, restaurants and delicatessens will have to provide allergy information to their customers. The Food Standards Agency (external link) provides information regarding food allergies and the new labelling requirements.

To be kept informed about the latest withdraws or recalls, sign-up for allergy alerts (external link).

Useful websites

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