City of York Council is reminding local food businesses that they need to act in line with new rules that came into play this month which affect the way they provide allergen information.

From 13 December 2014 all food businesses have to verbally explain or signpost allergenic information for the food they sell or provide.

Food allergies can cause life-threatening reactions and the number of people with this condition is growing.

The primary cause of food allergy deaths in the UK is due to allergic reactions when food is consumed outside the home where allergenic ingredients have not been declared. The new rules mean that all food businesses must inform customers if any of 14 allergenic ingredients are present in the food they make or serve.

This can be communicated to customers in writing on menus, verbally through explanations by staff or signposted to where or how more information can be found.

Although the new EU rules came into force earlier this month, they were published in October 2011, to give food businesses three years to get ready for the new provisions.

Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said:
“Businesses could be missing out on vital custom and risk committing and offence by not providing clear and accurate allergen information. If any business needs advice and guidance on the new rules, they can ask their local authority food safety officer for help or go to help with these changes.”

Dr Chun-Han Chan from the Food Standards Agency said:
“Food allergies affect approximately 5-8% of children and 1-2% of adults. This means that around 2 million people in the UK are living with a food allergy. People with food allergies can react to very small amounts of food, such as a teaspoon of yoghurt, a single peanut or even an egg glaze used to brush over pies”.

“There is no cure for food allergies, so the only way for people to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes them ill. This is where providing accurate food allergen labelling and information is important, and why food businesses, local authorities and the Food Standards Agency are all working together to ensure consumers have clear and accurate information.”

Local authorities are working together with the FSA to make sure businesses know what to do and how to provide safe food for those with food allergies and intolerances. To help enforcement officers and businesses with these new rules, the FSA has developed a range of training and education materials. Advice is available at and resources can be found on

What are the responsibilities of food businesses?

Remember these key messages when dealing with dietary requests such as food allergies:

  • Make sure the information you provide is accurate
  • Keep up-to-date ingredients information for any ready-made foods bought in
  • When cooking, make sure you know what’s in the ingredients:
  • consider cooking oils, dressings, toppings, sauces and garnishes
  • update this if you change the recipe or ingredients used
  • Ensure your staff know of any changes to allergen information for the dishes provided.
  • When making food for someone with an allergy, work surfaces and equipment must be thoroughly cleaned before use.
  • Always wash your hands before preparing any food.