Some people are hypersensitive to certain foods and can suffer adverse reactions, which for some can be life threatening. Food hypersensitivities include food allergies, food intolerances, and coeliac disease.

To inform allergic consumers, food allergen labelling is mandatory. Pre-packed food or drink that contains any of the 14 regulated food allergens used as ingredients or processing aids must be declared and emphasised within the ingredients list on a food label. There are different allergen labelling requirements for food sold loose (e.g. catering) or when sold pre-packed for direct sale (which is regulated via Natasha’s Law).

Food and drink manufacturers are very aware of the risk to consumers of food allergens, therefore take steps to manage unintended allergen presence and to control cross-contamination. When it comes to allergen risk communication, only after a thorough risk assessment, where there is a demonstrable risk of unintentional presence that cannot be removed through appropriate controls, should precautionary allergen labelling (e.g. 'may contain <allergen>') be used.

The FDF assists the UK food industry through its provision of technical guidance on allergen labelling and management (e.g. gluten labelling, free-from allergen claims and vegan claims). We also support progress towards agreement of reference doses/thresholds to enable quantitative risk assessment for food allergen management.

Updates & milestones

FSA Food Hypersensitivity Programme Update - June 2022

On 15 June 2022, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) held a Board meeting, which discussed updates on the work carried out as part of the FSA’s Food Hypersensitivity (FHS) Programme and the proposed approach for its next phase of work [Food Hypersensitivity (FHS) - Update on Workstreams and Recommended Next Steps]. The three priorities for phase two of FSA's FHS Programme are as follows:

  1. improving Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL) through a more standardised approach, more support for food businesses to apply PAL when necessary and improving allergen cross-contact risk management. 
  2. a new workstream to improve allergen management and information to consumers in the 'non-prepacked' sector (i.e. food prepared on request in businesses such as restaurants and takeaways).
  3. continued focus on improving our understanding of the causes and impacts of FHS reactions.

Also in June, the FSA published its Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL) research package which summarised the findings of its recent PAL consultation (to which the FDF responded to) and its research carried out with businesses, consumers and local authorities which informed the recommendations made to the FSA Board.

Then recently, as underpining research, the FSA publihsed its Provision of Allergen Information in the Out of Home Food Sector Report. This research was commissioned to understand the allergen information needs and preferences of people with Food Hypersensitivity (FHS) when eating in the non-prepacked food sector (also referred to the ‘out of home’ sector). One of its key findings was that both FBOs and people with FHS feel the consumer knows best about their FHS and the allergens they need to avoid, with both groups wanting further standardisation of allergen information.

FDF member companies have full access to the ASG homepage, ASG documents, and FDF Allergens Toolkit.

FSA Advice on the Use of Fully Refined Oils as Sunflower Oil Substitutes

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published an update on the ongoing shortage of sunflower oil caused by the conflict in Ukraine. They previously advised that fully refined rapeseed oil may be used by manufacturers to replace sunflower oil without updating ingredient labels in order to ensure food supplies are not interrupted.

In this latest update, the FSA has advised that the following other fully refined vegetable oils: palm, soyabean and coconut also be used in some products without changes to the label being made.

Food businesses must discuss their need for ingreident substiutions with their Local/Primary Authority for an enforcement derogation to be permitted.

The overal process of fully refining oils to remove impurities, also removes the proteins that can cause allergic reactions.

FDF Guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims

Veganuary is the annual challenge that promotes and educates about veganism by encouraging people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January.

A useful related piece of technical guidance is the FDF Guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims. This UK best practice guidance aims to inform both the wider food industry and consumers as to the difference between 'allergen'-free claims (e.g. milk-free) and vegan claims. Each claim communicates to different consumer groups, with only the allergen absence claim being food safety information.

New food safety courses for autumn!

The FDF is delighted to partner with Essential Food Hygiene to offer a range of training courses food safety.

The courses are all fully accredited, and delivered online via an easy to navigate website and compatible with all mobile devices.

Courses include:

  • Level 2 allergy awareness (updated with Natasha’s Law)
  • Levels 1,2 and 3 food hygiene and safety
  • Level 2 HACCP

Find out more and register

Terms and conditions

Contractual notes
The FDF is an affiliate marketer for Essential Food Hygiene, this means we receive a small commission from your fee at no additional cost to you. Your training contract is with Essential Food Hygiene and the FDF cannot be responsible for issues including but not limited to course content; website maintenance; delivery or scheduling or payments and reimbursements. Any disputes, questions or queries must be addressed to Essential Food Hygiene not the FDF.

To make your booking you will be entering a third party website (Essential Food Hygiene). Any data entered is processed in accordance with Essential Food Hygiene’s own policies. Data is not handled or stored by the FDF.

Contact details: Essential Food Hygiene Ltd; Lodge House; Cow Lane; Burnley, Lancashire BB11 1NN

Natasha's Law - Pre-Packed for Direct Sale (PPDS) Allergen Labelling Guidance

As of 1 October 2021, any FBOs selling Pre-Packed for Direct Sale (PPDS) foods in the UK now has to include full ingredients lists (inc. emphasised allergens) on the product label. This is commonly known as Natasha's Law and primarily impacts food sold out of home via catering outlets, such as cafes, sandwich outlets and delis.

What is PPDS food?

Prepacked for direct sale or PPDS is food which is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold to consumers and is in this packaging before it is ordered or selected. It can include food that consumers select themselves (e.g. from a display unit), as well as products kept behind a counter and some food sold at mobile or temporary outlets.

To support impacted FBOs, in July 2021 the Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched a PPDS Hub, featuring new labelling guidance for PPDS foods and sector specific guides (i.e. bakery, butchers, fast food and takeaways, mobile sellers, restaurants, cafes and pubs, and schools).

Then in early August 2021, Food Standards Scotland (FSS) published its PPDS webpage and new guidance on labelling of food sold PPDS.


allergy and intolerance


'Allergen'-free and vegan claims guidance

This FDF guidance aims to inform both the food industry and consumers as to the difference between 'allergen'-free claims and vegan claims. This information aims to dispel any misunderstanding that a vegan claim automatically means a food product is safe and suitable for an allergic consumer.



Gluten labelling guidance

This UK best practice guidance aims to provide advice to food business operators, irrespective of size, on how to label food products that include cereals containing gluten through review of the relevant EU and UK legislation and guidance.


The FDF publishes guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims

The FDF has today published 'FDF Guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims'.

Read more

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