Information about food allergies

Allergies can cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis affects the whole body, often within minutes of eating the food. Examples of nuts associated with allergenic reactions include peanuts, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pistachios. Other associated foods include; cereals containing gluten; crustaceans; eggs; fish; soybeans; milk / lactose; celery; mustard; sesame seeds; sulphur dioxide and sulphites; lupin and molluscs.

Customers must be informed about the exact ingredients of any food they eat, because even a tiny amount of the food or ingredient could kill them. If a customer asks you about ingredients such as nuts and seeds you must take it seriously.

Make sure you or a duty manager knows which menu items contain allergic ingredients, or may have been contaminated by use of equipment that was previously used for storage, preparation or cooking of products containing allergic ingredients.

  • even tiny traces of these foods can kill
  • think before using nut and seed oils, salad dressings and seafood sauces
  • don’t let allergic ingredients touch food that should not have those ingredients
  • clean your hands, work surfaces and utensils after handling allergic ingredients
  • think before cooking with oils that have been used to cook other foods

In an emergency

If you think your customer is having an allergic reaction:

  • call 999 and ask for an ambulance straight away
  • say your customer could have anaphylaxis – “ANNA-FILL-AXIS”
  • stay with them until help arrives
  • try to ascertain what food may have caused the reaction and ensure the ambulance crew knows this
  • review your Food Safety Management System straight away – seek advice from The Directorate of Environmental Health (telephone 020 7361 3002)

Other information and advice

Food allergen labelling

Legislation came into force on 13 December 2014, requiring all small food businesses that sell un-prepacked (loose) foods such as cafes, takeaways and restaurants, to provide allergen information to their customers at the point where the food is sold. See our page on Labelling for more information.


Last updated: 29 November 2019