The 14 Food Allergens

If you are one of the estimated two million people in the UK with a food allergy, you might recognise your allergen in the pictures below. If a food contains or uses one of the 14 allergens, information about the allergen must be provided to you. If you have a serious allergy, don’t forget to always check ingredient labels or ask questions, even if it’s a product you’ve eaten before or eat regularly. Click on the picture of each allergen below to find out more about it, its use as an ingredient, and how to avoid it.

Wheat allergy

Cereals containing gluten

'Cereals containing gluten' includes wheat, which is a common cause of food allergy.
Sulphites/Sulphur Dioxide

Sulphites/Sulphur Dioxide

Sulphites are preservatives added to food and drinks to extend their shelf life.


Celery is used in food in various forms, including celery sticks, leaves, seeds and root (celeriac).


Crustaceans include crab, lobster, crayfish, and prawns.
Egg - common causes serious allergic reaction


Egg can be found in a wide range of foods including cakes, pastries, desserts, meat products, mayonnaise, and many more.


Fish allergy refers to fish that have fins such as cod, plaice, haddock, herring, trout, salmon and tuna.


The lupin is well-known as a popular garden flower with its tall, colourful spikes. The seeds from certain lupin species are also cultivated as food.
Milk - common causes serious allergic reaction in children example


Cow's milk is used to make many foods including butter, cheese, cream, yogurt and more.


Mustard plants have seeds that can be white, yellow, brown or black. They can be used to make different types of mustard.


Molluscs include mussels, oysters, scallops, snails, squid, octopus and many more.

Tree Nuts

Tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts.
peanuts - common causes serious allergic reaction in children example


The peanut is a legume and is in the same plant family as peas, beans and lentils.


Sesame seeds can be black, white, brown or red. Foods made with sesame include tahini, hummus and halvah.


‘Soya’ or ‘soy’ is made from the soya bean, which is a legume. Soya is used to make soy sauce and tofu and is used as an ingredient in many food products.

Food allergen information

In the UK, food businesses must provide information about any of 14 allergens when they are used as ingredients in the food and drink they provide. The way the information is communicated to the customer depends on what kind of business they are (e.g. retail or catering), and how the food is presented.

The rules differ depending on whether the food they sell is:

  • Prepacked (for example, labelled food sold at retail)
  • Prepacked for direct sale (for example, sandwiches prepared and wrapped on-site in a cafe before the customer has selected/ordered
  • Non-prepacked/loose food (for example food sold in restaurants and takeaways, or packed at the customer’s request, such as at in-store bakery and delicatessen counters).


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