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Be warned: eggs, fish, milk, soya, can make you ill

31 October 2014


CHURCHES, schools, and community centres that provide meals or other foods as part of a café or lunch club will have to provide information about any allergens contained in the food when new regulations come into force on 13 December.

The new rules, which apply to both commercial and not-for-profit food sales, require information about 14 specified allergens to be displayed on a menu or noticeboard, or included in an information pack. The regulations are comprehensive: people ordering takeaway food over the phone should be told about any allergens in the food before the purchase is complete, and told again in writing when the food is delivered.

The new rules require detailed records to be kept of all the ingredients in a recipe, including the ingredients of any bought-in products, such as sauces or mixes, that are used. The information provided must be specific: it will not suffice to say that a food item might contain allergens.

"Allergic reactions can make people very ill, and can sometimes lead to death," the Food Standards Agency says in its guidance. "However, there is no cure for food allergy. The only way someone can avoid getting ill is to make sure they don't eat the foods they are allergic to. If you work with food, it is important to take food allergy seriously."

Breaches of the regulations can be punished with fines of up to £5,000.


The specified allergens

Celery: often found in soups and stock cubes.

Cereals containing gluten - in­­cluding wheat: found in foods con­taining flour such as breads, batter, pasta, and pastry.

Crustaceans: including crabs, lob­sters, prawn, and scampi - often found in shrimp paste.

Eggs: including foods brushed or glazed with eggs.

Fish: often found in stock cubes and salad dressings.

Lupin: including seeds and flour, found in some breads, pastries, and pasta.

Milk: including butter, cheese, and cream, and food glazed with milk.

Molluscs: including mussels, land snails, squid, and whelks - often found in oyster sauce.

Mustard: including liquid, powder, and seeds, often found in bread, curries, marinades, salad dressings, sauces, and soups.

Nuts: can be found in breads, biscuits, ice cream, marzipan, nut oils, and sauces - often used in Asian dishes and stir fries.

Peanuts: found in biscuits, cakes, curries, and sauces, includes ground­­­nut oil and peanut flour.

Sesame seeds: found in bread, hummus, sesame oil, and tahini.

Soya: found in beancurd, miso paste, and tofu; often used in desserts, ice-cream sauces, and vegetarian products.

Sulphur dioxide: a preservative in dried fruit, meat, and soft drinks, as well as wine and beer. 

Source: extracted from Food Standards Agency leaflet.

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