Food Allergen Labels: Free Download & Advice

January 23, 2017
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If you work in a small food business that makes food to sell or serve to customers, then it’s essential that you have an understanding of how to label allergens correctly. Whether you make sandwiches in a café, sell cakes at a stall or serve burgers from a food truck, you have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that the foods you sell are labelled accurately. Our quick guide to food allergen labels below should help you to get started. What’s more, you can download our free food allergy stickers to use in your small food business.

Allergen Labelling and the Law

If you create and package food products for sale (such as packaged sandwiches, pies, ready-meals and cakes), then the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 require you to label your food products with specific information, including the presence of allergens.

The European Provision of Food Information to Consumers Regulation 2011 also means that, as of December 2014, allergen information must be provided for all food sold, whether packaged or loose (such as loose bakery items, deli foods and cooked-to-order meals).

For pre-packaged foods (such as packaged sandwiches, boxed salads or individually wrapped pastries that you receive from a supplier), allergens must be highlighted in the ingredients list, such as by listing them in capital letters, a different colour, or in bold font on the food’s packaging. Packaged foods must also label any derivatives of allergenic foods, such as stating that albumen is egg. If a customer asks about the allergen content of a pre-packaged food then you can inform them by referring to the product’s packaging.

For foods sold loose (such as at a café, deli, market or food truck), accurate allergen information must either be displayed on a board by the point of sale, or told to customers verbally on request. All food businesses, no matter their size, are responsible for providing clear and accurate allergen information for any foods that they sell or serve to customers, and there must be at least one staff member available on each shift who knows the accurate allergen information for each food product.

woman in a shop looking at a food product and the food allergen labels on it

The 14 Allergens

In the food industry there are 14 named allergens which must be declared if they are used as an ingredient in a food product. These are the allergens that need to be labelled on the food products that you produce and/or sell.

The 14 allergens that must be declared are:

1. Celery and celeriac.
2. Cereals containing gluten.
3. Crustaceans, for example lobster and prawns.
4. Eggs.
5. Fish.
6. Lupin.
7. Molluscs, for example mussels and squid.
8. Milk.
9. Mustard.
10. Nuts, for example walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, brazils and pistachios.
11. Peanuts.
12. Sesame seeds.
13. Soy beans.
14. Sulphur dioxide and sulphites at levels above 10mg per kg or 10ml per litre.

a photo of the 14 named allergens including gluten, fish and eggs

Free Allergen Labels

If you sell foods loose or package them up yourself (perhaps you put sandwiches into bags, or cakes into individual boxes), then it’s a good idea to mark your products using food allergy stickers or labels, as well as displaying the allergy information on a board at the point of sale. This ensures that the customer knows exactly what their product contains, even after they’ve taken the food away from the premises.

To help with this, we’ve created some simple food allergen labels that you can print at home and use for the food products in your business. Download the free food allergen labels at the link below:

Gluten Free Labels on Food

Gluten is a protein that is found in three types of cereals -wheat, barley and rye – plus any food product that uses any of these, such as pasta, breads, cakes and ready-made sauces. It is one of the 14 named allergens that must be labelled if present in the food products that you produce, sell and/or serve.

People with coeliac disease – a digestive condition where the body reacts adversely to the substances found in gluten – must pursue a gluten free diet in order to control their condition and prevent any harmful long-term complications. This makes gluten free labels on food even more important.

It’s also worth mentioning the ever-increasing profile of ‘free from’ foods. These days, many people choose to select gluten free, dairy free or sugar free products in order to follow a healthier, more considered diet. As a business that produces and sells food products, it may be in your interests to highlight these ‘free from’ qualities in a more prominent manner. Perhaps you could create specific ‘free from’ stickers for your food packaging or menu boards to help customers with their food choices.

box of breads with a gluten free label on

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