What are the 14 main Allergens and how can we protect the consumer from them?

What are the 14 main Allergens and how can we protect the consumer from them?

 Food Allergens

What are the 14 key Allergens and how can we protect the customer from them? Allergens are typically harmless substances that cause a person who is susceptible to react immediately.

Food allergies are quite common in children and adults in the United Kingdom. These allergies can cause anaphylaxis which can be life-threatening. The management of food allergies includes food avoidance, parental vigilance, medical intervention and education.

Allergies to food can be extremely dangerous for a consumer. Allergens found in foods cause the immune system to produce an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). Symptoms that may arise from eating these allergens include hives on the skin, vomiting and diarrhoea. These symptoms often lead to a trip to the Emergency Room.

Many people in the UK suffer some kind of allergic disorder, the most common being food allergies that cover a host of different hypersensitivities to food.  Some allergies are more prevalent than others are, and their effects, including severity, vary among individuals. They can be anything from body rashes and mild gastrointestinal discomfort to more fatal body reactions, including anaphylaxis. A food allergy is therefore an exaggerated and abnormal immune system reaction to some foods.  The body produces some specific antibodies, which then react to the particular food component, resulting in an allergic reaction. Food allergens are usually proteins. However, other food constituents, including some additives also possess allergenic properties.

What are the 14 main Allergens?

The 14 main allergens include the following:

  1. Celery: This includes major parts of the celery, including leaves, stalks, seeds, and roots. All of these are likely allergens. You can also find celery in some soups, salads and meat products.
  2. Cereals (with Gluten): such cereals include wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Often, bread, flour, batter, flour, baking powders, pasta, sauces and several fried foods contain these allergens.
  3. Crustaceans: the food industry uses crustaceans, including lobster, crabs, scampi and prawns, and shellfish.  All of them are under the allergy of crustaceans.
  4. Fish: any piece or part of fish, as well as dishes that they make from fish, including stock cubes, fish-topped pizzas etc., are allergens.
  5. Eggs, Egg Substitutes and Egg containing foods: Several sauces and dishes including quiches and cakes, mayonnaise and pastas among others, use fish. They also glaze some other foods with eggs.
  6. Lupin: this is some sort of flower, and is indeed among the allergens most people do not know. You find it in some flour types, breads, some pasta and Lupin seeds, etc.
  7. Milk and Dairy products: this allergen covers milk and all its products, including yogurt, powdered milk, cheeses, butters, creams, and even sauces. Milk allergen can also be found in sauces that they glaze with milk products
  8. Molluscs: This includes Snails, Mussels, whelks and squids. It also includes sauces such as oyster sauce and dishes, including fish stews.
  9. Mustard: Mustard plants and all its products are allergens. They include mustard seeds, as well as powdered and liquid mustard. Marinades, curries, soups and sauces, also contain the mustard allergen, including some types of bread products.
  10.  Nuts: This allergen type comes from nuts that grow on trees, such as almonds, cashew nuts, and hazelnuts. You can find it in several bread types, nut powders, pastries, biscuits, desserts, and crackers.  It is important to note that this allergy does not involve peanuts, which are technically some sort of legumes.
  11.  Peanuts: Peanuts, unlike the general category of nuts, grow underground as legumes. They often use peanuts in curries, deserts, curries, sauces, peanut flour, groundnut oil and biscuits, among others.
  12.  Sesame Seeds: They typically sprinkle sesame seeds on burger bun tops and bread sticks. You also find them occasionally on salads, and oils.
  13.  Soya, Soya Substitutes and Products from Soya: This is common to dishes with oriental origin, including tofu. You also find it in paste, soya flour, ice cream, edamame beans, and soya protein where it is an alternative to meat products. It is common in vegetarian diets.
  14.  Sulphites and Sulphite Dioxides: These allergens might not quickly raise eyebrows, but they are actually very very common. You find sulphites on fruit products that are dry, such as apricots, prunes and raisins. You also find them in beer and wine, in some vegetable and meat products. People suffering from asthma are at higher risk of developing sulphite allergy.

What are the 14 main Allergens and how can we protect the consumer from them?

Whoever operates in an environment where they cook or prepare food, whether at home or in a public restaurant, should familiarise themselves with the 14 main allergens. He or she should be able to implement or put in place precautions and procedures that protect the consumer from allergens. The following is how.

  1. Allergen labeling

You can provide allergen information to your customers in several ways. Generally, the method depends on the business and the kind of food that the business serves. Rules for applying different allergen labeling depend on how you provide food, pre-packed or non-prepacked.

  1. Avoiding cross-contamination of allergens

A food business should take all steps necessary to avoid cross-contaminating allergens when preparing and handling food, including using prior cleaned utensils. This will protect customers that suffer food allergy.

  1. Recording information about ingredients

You must also make sure to know the constituents of the food that you are providing. One way is by writing down ingredient information regarding allergens.

  1. Procedures for intake

Put in place relevant procedures and checks to ensure that foods entering a processing facility are properly labeled, and free from unexpected allergens.

  1. Risk point identification

Part of the plan for controlling allergens should include identifying all the allergens that are present within the facility, including where they exist, and their points of entry into food processing.

  1. Procedures for storage and handling  

There is need for storage facilities and those for food handling procedures to ensure that ingredients containing allergens are isolated from others. This can include separate areas of storage or segregated systems of ventilation that guard against airborne allergens.

  1. Uniform naming  

To minimize confusion, manufacturers should be consistent in their naming of ingredients on labels.

  1. Employee training  

Food manufacturers should train their employees on how to control allergens and protect food consumers, including their specific duties.

  1. Testing  

Procedures for scientifically testing and determining which surfaces are prone to an allergen build-up, and which allergen are airborne among others, are necessary.

  1. Recalls foods  

In the event that the rest fail, and food allergens are discovered in the food unacceptable rates, food manufacturers are obliged to recall their food from the market


So in answer to the question

What are the 14 main Allergens and how can we protect the consumer from them?

There is yet no proven food allergy cure, apart from dedicated care and emergency treatment. The only way to manage food allergy successfully is to avoid every kind of food that contains the allergen.

Cambridge University Peanut Clininc

However, Cambridge University has started an immunotherapy clinic to try and reverse the Allergic reaction to peanuts.


Immunotherapy involves taking small amounts of characterised peanut allergens by mouth every day and increasing them over time. Most of these doses are taken at home, but the first dose and each subsequent dose increase are taken in the Cambridge Peanut Allergy Clinic under medical supervision.

The two-year immunotherapy programme typically requires ten hospital appointments. The first appointment involves an allergy assessment (2 to 3 hours), which determines your child’s suitability to undergo the programme. There follows a series of 7 appointments during the “up-dosing” phase. When your child reaches the top dose they enter the “maintenance phase”, during which they continue taking the daily dose at home until the end of the two-year programme, with follow-up consultations at 12 and 24 months.

An allergy specialist takes a full description of your child’s allergies, including other food allergies, eczema, asthma and hay fever, and performs some tests (skin prick tests, a blood test and a breathing test). The specialist identifies which nut types your child is allergic to and provides a risk assessment based on the likely severity of reactions. Individualised avoidance advice and emergency medication will be recommended. Unfortunately All services at the Cambridge Peanut Allergy Clinic are offered on a private basis. For NHS services please visit the CUH allergy department. Note that peanut immunotherapy is not currently funded by the NHS.

They have had some great results with this programme and hopefully soon this can be trialled for other Allergens and maybe the Government will see how effective this programme has been and start to invest in it and also make it widely available on the NHS.


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