Some ingredients are considered allergens and you must provide your customer with information on these allergens. In this section you will find out what these allergens are, how to display them and other information you may need.
There are 14 allergens that must be declared by law:
- 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'.
- Crustaceans, e.g. crabs, prawns, lobsters
- Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macademia/Queensland nut) Note: The name of the nut, e.g. 'almond', must be declared and highlighted, not 'nuts'.
- Sesame Seeds
- 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
- Lupin - not very common in Ireland
- Molluscs, e.g. mussels, oysters, squid, snails
Non-prepacked food - how to display allergen information
Food businesses must indicate allergens in writing for non-prepacked food at the point of:
- presentation, or
- sale, or
Non-prepacked food includes:
- foods sold in loose form, e.g. foods sold in restaurants, delis, cafés, canteens, takeaways, retail outlets, etc.
- foods packed on the premises at the request of the consumer, e.g. a sandwich made and packed into a plastic triangle for the customer
- foods packed on the premises for direct sale to the consumer or mass caterer, e.g. lasagne made in a café kitchen and sold packaged from a fridge in the café
The information must:
- be provided in written form in English or in Irish and English
- be easily located and accessible before the sale or supply of the food - customers must have the information before buying and must not have to ask for the information
- relate directly to a food or beverage so there is no confusion about which food it relates to. It is not acceptable to say ‘Our food contains…’. You must identify the exact food, e.g. ‘lasagne - contains milk, celery, wheat’
- be in a legible handwritten or printed format
See our booklet Allergen Information for Non-prepacked Food for advice, options and examples
Prepacked food - how to display allergen information
The allergen must be:
- indicated in the list of ingredients with clear reference to the name of the allergen
- highlighted in a way that makes it stand out from the other ingredients. This could be through, for example, font, style or background colour, e.g. Ingredients: minced beef, breadcrumbs (wheat), egg, salt, pepper
Use of precautionary statements
Use of a ‘may contain….’ statement, or similar, to indicate that the product may contain an allergen as a result of possible cross-contamination, must not take the place of good manufacturing practices (GMPs) in a food business.
GMPs must be in place to prevent cross-contamination. If it is not possible to guarantee no cross-contamination, even with GMPs, then food businesses may consider including this kind of warning statement to inform affected consumers.
Remember, allergens are considered a hazard and must be taken into account when developing your food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP.
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