What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is a rapid and potentially serious response to a food by your immune system.

What can trigger an allergic reaction to food?

An allergic reaction can be produced by a tiny amount of a food ingredient that a person is sensitive to (for example a teaspoon of milk powder, a fragment of peanut or just one or two sesame seeds). Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild symptoms, such as itching around the mouth and rashes, and can progress to more severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, wheezing and, on occasion, anaphylaxis (shock). Around ten people in the UK die from allergic reactions to food every year due to undeclared allergenic ingredients.

What are the rules for businesses?

On 13 December 2014 it became law that all food businesses need to verbally explain or signpost allergenic information for the food they sell or provide.

Where can I find more information?

Easy-to-understand information is available on the Food Standards Agency website:

For business advice on labelling and allergens go to