What are the 14 major food allergens?

14 major food allergens


In the UK, there are 14 major food allergens which food providers are legally required to provide warnings for when they are used as ingredients in any food and drink that they provide.

The way information about food allergens is communicated depends on what kind of business the food provider is and how food and drink is presented:

  • Prepacked: for example, food sold in retail outlets that are already labelled
  • Non-prepacked/loose food: for example, food sold in bakeries, delicatessen, takeaways etc.
  • Prepacked for direct sale: for example, food prepared on site and prepacked e.g., sandwiches

The 14 major food allergens

The following list details what the 14 food allergens are and provides examples of foods they may be found in.


  1. Gluten

As defined by the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.

Gluten can also be found in foods containing flour such as baking powders, bread, pasta, cakes, breadcrumbs, batter, couscous, meat products, pastry, sauces, soups and foods dusted with flour.


  1. Sulphites/Sulphur Dioxide

Sulphites are preservatives used in the production of some foods and drinks.

Sulphites can be found in processed meats, dried fruit, vegetables, as well as alcoholic and soft drinks.


  1. Celery

Although thought to be rare in the UK, celery allergies can be very severe. This includes all celery variants – stalk, stick, seed and leaf.


  1. Crustacean

One of two shellfish allergies, crustaceans include prawns, shrimps, crab, lobster, crayfish and scampi.


  1. Egg

Eggs from all animals including hens, ducks and quails fall in this category. Thus, foods include cake, mayonnaise, some pasta and meat products, pastries, sauces and any product glazed with egg.


  1. Fish

Some people have a fish allergy and cannot therefore tolerate food products such as white and oily fish, fish sauces, foods topped with fish e.g., pizza, relish, salad dressings and so on.


  1. Lupin

Lupin, a popular garden flower, has its seeds cultivated as food. Either eaten as seeds or crushed to make lupin flour and therefore found in baked goods such as pies, pastries, pancakes and pasta. 


  1. Milk

Milk is found in a variety of food products including butter, margarine, cheese, cream, curds and yoghurt.


  1. Mustard

Can be liquid, powder or seed form. Found in breads, curries, meat products, salad dressing, soups and sauces.


  • Mollusc

The second shellfish allergy. This includes mussels, oysters, scallops, clams, land snails, squid (calamari), cuttlefish, and octopus.


  • Nut/Tree Nut

Including almonds, walnuts, pecan nuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pistachio nuts, macadamia. Can be found in foods such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits, deserts, ice creams, nut oils and sauces.  


  • Peanut

Also called ground nuts, monkey nuts, arachis oil. Can be found in biscuits, cakes, deserts, curries etc.


  • Sesame

Can be found in sesame oil, tahini, burgers, bread sticks, hummus and salads.


  • Soya

Found in different forms such as edamame bean, tofu, textured vegetable protein, soya nuts, miso paste and beancurd. Very often used in vegetarian/vegan products and in some deserts, ice creams, sauces and meat products.

Hungry to learn more? - Ensure your team is compliant!

allmanhall can provide allergen training workshops to you and your catering/foodservice team. All workshops are carried out by our Company Dietitian and Registered Nutritionist, who will tailor the session to your needs, ensuring your staff come away with critical knowledge and practical learning about the 14 major food allergens, including how to deal with the different types of reactions and ensuring your food service operation is fully compliant.

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