Allergen Training Tool

Module 5 – Introduction

A severe food allergy can cause a life-threatening reaction and even a tiny trace can be enough to cause an allergic reaction. It is important that you and your staff are aware of the composition of the foods you sell to enable you to cater for customers with food allergies and intolerances. Food allergens cannot be removed by cooking, so they need to be managed carefully.  

Food businesses need to understand their own processes and products and identity, manage and communicate allergen risk to their staff and customers who have allergies to certain foods. Allergen management can easily be done in three steps:

Step 1 – Identifying allergens

Step 2 – Manage allergen risks

Step 3 – Communicate with your staff and customers (see module 6)

Module 5 – Identifying allergens

The table below lists the most common allergens and provides examples of foods which typically contain them:

Allergens Examples of typical foods which contain this allergen (Please note this list is not exhaustive) 
Cereals containing Gluten e.g. wheat (such as spelt and khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats Bread, pasta, cakes, pastry, sauces, soups, batter, stock cubes, breadcrumbs, semolina, couscous, some meat products
Celery and Celeriac e.g. stalks, seeds and leaves Salads, soups, celery salt, some meat products
Eggs Cakes, sauces, pasta, mayonnaise, some meat products, glazed products
Fish, e.g. all fish, Some salad dressings, fish extracts, oils and paste, soy and Worcestershire sauces, relishes 
Crustaceans e.g. prawns, lobster, crab,langoustines Seafood soups & stews e.g. bouillabaisse, seafood flavourings
Molluscs e.g. clams, mussels, oysters, octopus Seafood soups and stews e.g. bouillabaisse, some processed foods e.g. Oyster sauce
Milk Milk powder, yoghurt, butter, cheese, cream, ghee, foods glazed with milk, ice cream, some protein powders
Mustard Mustard paste, seeds, leaves, flour, powder and liquid mustard, salad dressings, marinades, soups, sauces, curries, some meat products
Peanuts Arachis oil, peanut butter, flour, satay sauce peanut oil
Nuts e.g. almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan, Brazil, pistachio, macadamia/Queensland nuts  In sauces, desserts, bread, crackers, ice cream, praline (hazelnut), nut butters, essences and oils, marzipan and frangipane (almond), pesto, nut salad dressings
Sesame seeds Oil or paste, tahini, houmous, halva, furikake, Gomashio, bread
Soya Some ice cream, sauces, desserts, meat products, vegetarian products, flour, tofu or beancurd, textured soya protein, soy sauce, edamame beans
Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphites Some meat products, stock cubes, bouillon mix, fruit juice drinks, dried fruit/vegetables, wine, beer, cider 
Lupin Some types of bread and pastries, seeds, flour.

Module 5 – Manage allergen risks

Managing allergen risks can be done by adapting the following guidance for your business.

Module 5 – Deliveries and Labels

  • Check that the food delivered matches your order.if it does not match, check the ingredient list of the replacement product.  Never accept a delivery without it being fully labelled with an ingredient list.
  • Be aware of hidden ingredients, for example, nuts used in the base of a cheesecake.
  • Any foods whose ingredients are unknown to you or you are unsure about, will require further investigation before the allergen status of that food can be verified.

Module 5 – Storage and avoiding cross-contamination

  • Keep allergens separate from other foods and follow advice for avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen
  • Store foods that contain allergens separate from other foods and consider using clearly marked or colour-coded containers 
  • Store foods that contain allergens in powdered for such as milk powder or flour in air-tight containers
  • Do not lose the original product description following unpacking, decanting and storage
  • Keep a record of all foods and ingredients purchases by you to ensure traceability
  • Put in place steps to prevent cross-contamination between foods that contain allergens and foods that do not  e.g. not using the same spoon for spices/nut powders and not having open containers on kitchen benches/worktops.
  • Consider garnishes & accompaniments. – do these contain allergens that need to be considered? e.g. swirl of crème fraiche on soup, croutons etc.

Module 5 – Preparing dishes

  • Know all the ingredients in the food you handle to ensure you provide accurate allergen advice to customers
  • Whenever preparing or serving food for an allergy suffered always:
    • Use a separate areas to prepare the food
    • Clean and disinfect the work surface, equipment and serving utensils first, N.B. Not all equipment can be fully sanitised like tandoori ovens etc.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly
    • Check all ingredients listed on pre-packed foods, including secondary ones e.g. thickeners for sauces
    • Do not cook food in oil in which you have cooked other foods
    • Do not remove allergenic ingredients, such as nuts, from a dish and call it allergy-free because residues of the allergenic ingredient may remain in the dish and may still cause a reaction
    • When displaying food in buffets or display cabinets, always lay out dishes in a way that will minimise the risk of allergen-free food being contaminated with ingredients from another dish and provide dedicated allergen serving utensils.

Module 5 – Communicate with staff (more in module 6)

Ensure staff have a knowledge of what allergens are in what dishes. If they don’t know, don’t guess & check with someone who does know. Also ensure notified of any ‘on-the-day’ substitutions that contain allergens.

Key allergen messages:

  • Food allergies can kill – talk to your staff about the risks and train them in allergy awareness
  • Know all the ingredients in the food that you prepare
  • Keep food that can cause an allergic reaction and/or intolerance separated from other food
  • Utensils and equipment used with food that can cause allergic reactions and/or intolerance should be kept separate from other utensils and equipment or cleaned thoroughly after use
  • Be aware of the ingredients in bought–in products e.g. marinades, gravy mixings or seasonings
  • Cooking does not eliminate allergen risks.

Before you begin the quiz

The following two questions are optional and help us with our reporting and providing you a better service.

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