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Importance of Managing Food Allergens

16 February 2024

Importance of Managing Food Allergens in any food handling premises is significant. It is reported that approximately 3% of adults and 5% of children in Ireland have food allergies (IFAN, 2020).

Many people are allergic to certain foods. You must always be aware of all the ingredients contained in the food served by your kitchen. For example, many pre-prepared foodstuffs such as ice-cream contain eggs, and other foods contain traces of nuts. Be very careful when garnishing food, because even if a pre-prepared food type is allergen free, if it is garnished with chopped nuts it can become fatal to certain people.


How to Manage Food Allergens

All members of staff should be trained in allergen awareness and observe the house rules, and everyone should be able to recognise the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Of course some restaurants serve shellfish and dishes containing nuts, and the key here is awareness: the staff must be aware of food ingredients and the customers likewise. It is very important that your supplier provides complete ingredient information and alerts you when any changes are made. It is also very important to listen carefully to your customers. If an allergy sufferer asks for information about the ingredients of a certain food it is essential that you understand them completely so that you can give an accurate response. Never guess!

eLearn Safety offers a fully online Management of Food Allergens course. The course is designed to introduce participants to understanding food allergens and management of associated risks. On completion of this food allergen training course, participants will be able to understand their requirements under Irish food safety legislation as well as following best work practices.


The 14 Allergens

The EU has a list of 14 food allergens that you must declare the presence of if they are used as ingredients in your food (FSAI, 2024).

  1. Cereals containing gluten – wheat (such as spelt and khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats. Note: The cereal name, e.g., ‘wheat’, must be declared and highlighted, not ‘gluten’.
  2. Crustaceans, e.g., crabs, prawns, lobsters.
  3. Eggs.
  4. Fish.
  5. Peanuts.
  6. Soybeans.
  7. Milk.
  8. Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia/Queensland nut). Note: The name of the nut, e.g., ‘almond’, must be declared and highlighted, not ‘nuts’.
  9. Celery.
  10. Mustard.
  11. Sesame seeds.
  12. Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/L in terms of total sulphur dioxide) – used as a preservative.
  13. Lupin.
  14. Molluscs, e.g., mussels, oysters, squid, snails.


Why is it Important to Manage Food Allergens

Allergies can cause an anaphylactic shock, which is life-threatening.

The symptoms include:

  • reddening of the skin, swelling of the lips and eyelids,
  • swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing and/or speaking feeling faint due to a serious drop in blood pressure,
  • nausea,
  • collapse and unconsciousness.

As noted earlier, if someone suffers these symptoms you must render immediate medical attention and call an ambulance.


Online Food Safety Training

Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email

eLearn Online Health and Safety Training

eLearn Online Health and Safety Training