Food Allergens FAQs & Resources

As a leading provider of Health & Safety eLearning, our experts are often asked about Food Allergies. We've collected all of those questions and answered them for you below...

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Food Allergens FAQs

What are the major food allergens?

The major food allergens are as follows:

  • Cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, barley, oats or spelt
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Fish    
  • Peanuts
  • Soya 
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Celery (including celeriac)
  • Mustard  
  • Sesame seeds   
  • Sulphur dioxide
  • Lupin  
  • Molluscs

What type of allergic reactions can a person have?

There are 2 classes of allergic reactions, minor and major.

Minor allergic reactions can give you these symptoms:

  • Sneezing, runny, blocked or itchy nose
  • A rash (sometimes hives), or cracked skin
  • Red, itchy and sore eyes
  • Wheezing, coughing, tight chest
  • Swollen lips, tongue, eyes, face
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

Major allergic reactions - anaphylaxis - can give you these symptoms:

  • Swelling of throat or mouth
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Blue lips
  • Collapsing from loss of consciousness
  • Confusion

If any of the major symptoms are being exhibited, you should: use an adrenaline injector if they have one, then call 999 immediately.

What do you do if you think you're having an allergic reaction?

If you are experiencing a minor allergic reaction, you will most likely have to wait for it to pass or take something like an antihistamine.

Major allergic reactions can result in loss of consciousness, respiratory or cardiac arrest. If they have an EpiPen, it must be administered. Even if they do have an EpiPen and it has been administered, emergency services must be called if someone is experiencing the symptoms of a major allergic reaction.

Why is it important for us to use different utensils for different foods?

You should always use clean workspaces and utensils when preparing different types of food to avoid cross-contamination. Here are some tips to prevent cross-contamination with food:

  • Always wash hands before preparing food
  • Colour coded chopping boards can be used to differentiate between different food groups but specifically useful for raw and ready to eat foods.
  • Like above, different utensils should be used for different food groups too and both should be thoroughly washed after use.
  • Chopping boards should not be overused and regularly replaced due to the deep grooves that can occur and store bacteria
  • Clean surfaces regularly
  • Wash fruit and vegetables
  • Do not wear jewellery and watches as they can collect bacteria

What is cross-contact and cross-contamination?

Cross-contact - is when one food with an allergen touches another food and the allergen contamination this one. For example, if you put cheese on a burger, the burger patty now can contain the milk protein allergen in cheese.

Cross-contamination - is when a harmful bacteria is accidentally transferred from one food to another. This does not usually happen with food allergens but with bacteria such as E Coli.

Where do I find allergen information on labels?

Allergens in food can be found on the list of ingredients label on food packaging. Ingredients that are allergens can be noticed by being in bold, contrasting colours or underlines.

Is it my responsibility to train staff about food contamination?

The Food Standards Agency states that ‘an staff handling food are supervised, instructed and trained in food hygiene’ and ‘have relevant training for the job’.

Is an allergy the same as an intolerance?

An intolerance is a difficulty digesting certain foods which follows with a physical reaction to them. Some of the symptoms of an intolerance is bloating, wind, diarrhoea or skin irritation.

An intolerance doesn't involve your immune system (like allergies do) and has slower onset symptoms than allergies. Food allergies can be more serious and sometimes life-threatening whereas intolerances are not

Is there a cure for food allergies?

Although there are tests happening to try and cure this, at the moment there are no cures for food allergies. There are treatments for allergies but no preventative measures.

FAQs regarding our Food Allergens course

How long is my certificate valid for?

It is up to the training administrator of the employee as to when training needs to be refreshed. However, to stay up-to-date with legislation, we recommend that training should be renewed every year.​

What legislation is relevant to this course?

The Food Information Regulations 2014 and The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 are relevant to these courses.

What approvals does this course have?

These courses are CPD & IOSH approved

What devices is this course available from?

Our courses can be completed on a range of devices, they’re compatible with Desktops, laptops, mobile phones, iPads and other tablets

How long is this course?

This course is 35 minutes long.

Documents and resources

  • 14 Major Food Allergens

    This is a printable list of the 14 major allergens, including a little bit of information about each of them.

  • The HACCP System: Simplified

    This document outlines the 12 steps and splits them into bite-sized chunks. You can use this resource as your go-to for implementing a HACCP system at your place of work now that you have finished your training.

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