A breakdown of the 14 allergens

There can be a lot of confusion surrounding the 14 main allergens. It is important to note, that while there are 14 allergens listed on the Food Standards Agency. It does not mean these are the only allergens. Many people may suffer with allergies that are not listed within the main 14 allergens. This makes it essential for businesses to fully detail their ingredients where necessary. 

The more information you as a business have access to the better. Understanding each of the allergens, and the consequences of them can help you remain proactive when it comes to your food preparation and food labels. 

What are the main 14 allergens?

While it is possible for a person to be allergic to anything there are 14 recognised allergens. The main allergens are listed below. 

  • celery

  • cereals containing gluten - including wheat, rye, barley and oats

  • crustaceans - including prawns, crab and lobster

  • eggs

  • fish

  • lupin

  • milk

  • molluscs - including squid, mussels, cockles, whelks and snails

  • mustard

  • nuts

  • peanuts

  • sesame seeds

  • soya beans

  • sulphur dioxide

Of course, these are the ones that have been officially recognised. However, we all know of someone who suffers from an allergy that isn’t represented on this list. This is why detailed ingredient food labels are essential. Having detailed information on food labels provides consumers with the information they need to make an informed decision on the foods they consume. We have a detailed blog discussing food labels here. 

What causes an allergic reaction?

An allergic reaction is the body's way of trying to fight off something which it views as harmful. When the body is in contact with an allergen it forces the immune system to produce histamines. These are the antibodies that help remove the perceived threat. 

It is this chemical, histamine, that causes the visible reactions you see in a person with allergies.

How are allergic reactions different between the 14 allergens?

Due to the nature of allergies and how the body reacts to them the reactions are all very much alike. 

The typical symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Hives or a rash (red-raised skin, can also be itchy)

  • Swelling (can happen in the mouth, such as tongue, throat, or swelling of the eyes and other parts of the body may occur)

  • Difficulty breathing - this can be due to the swelling of the throat

A more serious reaction results in anaphylaxis shock. If this happens immediate medical attention is required. 

The severity of a person's allergy can vary, that is why it is essential to consult your GP on the best ways to manage your allergy. Some find small amounts of an item doesn’t result in a reaction, or some may need to avoid the allergen altogether. Seek medical advice either way.

If you are looking for a way to manage the allergens in your food menu look no further. Here at Allergen Checker, we provide a fully digital allergen management system. Add your individual allergens and ingredients and create your menus directly in the software. Click here to start your 7 day free trial.

The information provided in this blog is purely informational. Please speak to your GP for further information on any concerns you have regarding allergies. Sources for information are: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8610-allergy-overview