Allergy and intolerance

food intolerance
Food allergies and intolerances are life changing. In the UK they affect around 8% of children and 2% of adults. In December 2014, the law on how allergen information is provided by food businesses changed, to make it easier when buying food or eating out with an allergy or intolerance.

Our food allergy story


Allergy rights – what the law means for you

Under EU law, any prepacked food or drink sold in the UK must clearly state on the label if it contains the following ingredients:

Infographic thumbnail: 14 allergens

  • celery
  • cereals that contain gluten (including wheat, rye, barley and oats)
  • crustaceans (including prawns, crabs and lobsters)
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin (lupins are common garden plants, and the seeds from some varieties are sometimes used to make flour)
  • milk
  • molluscs (including mussels and oysters)
  • mustard
  • tree nuts – such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites (preservatives that are used in some foods and drinks)

Food businesses also need to provide information on any of these 14 allergens used as ingredients for any food or drink sold without packaging or wrapped on site. It can be provided either in writing or orally by a member of staff. Where the specific allergen information is not provided upfront, clear signposting to where this information could be obtained must be given.

The allergen information rules mean that:

  • you can ask for information about 14 allergens, if used as an ingredient in the food you are buying, when you eat out
  • you will see allergenic ingredients emphasised (for example, using bold, italics or colours) on prepacked foods

Not getting the correct allergen information?

Food businesses are required by law to provide allergen information on 14 specific allergens. If you ask for this information and they fail to provide it, you can speak to the manager of the food business, and if you are still not satisfied, you can report it to the local authority responsible for the food business.

Sign up for free allergy alerts

It’s important that you can trust the food you are buying. You can sign up to receive a free email or text message each time we issue an allergy alert about a food product, with information about what to do if you have bought it.

More in this section