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Allergens as a customer

Allergens as a consumer

  • As a customer, you have an obligation to inform  a caterer and/or food business if you have a food allergy when you are ordering or buying food.
  • Be very clear about your allergy/intolerance and give examples of the foods that make you ill.
  • If you don’t feel the person you’re speaking to understands your needs, ask for the manager or someone who can help better.
  • Ask how the food is handled and cooked, and whether there is a chance of cross- contamination from cooking equipment or ingredients.
  • Check allergen information is accurate. Has there been a last-minute recipe change or ingredient substitution?
  • Be extra careful if the restaurant serves complex dishes, as allergens could be less obvious or hidden.
  • If you have any doubt about the staff understanding the importance of your dietary needs, do not book the restaurant.

On arrival

  • Speak to your server or the manager. Be clear about your food allergy/intolerance and confirm your previous conversation with the staff
  • Check the meal choices are suitable for you or that they can make changes to suit your dietary needs.
  • Remind them to be careful of cross-contamination or added allergens from glazes, sauces, cooking oils, and to handle your meal with care.
  • If you have any doubt about the staff understanding the importance of your dietary needs, do not eat there.
  • Customers may provide food businesses with Chef’s Cards which list the foods that they are allergic to. These are intended to help caterers to understand exactly which foods their customers need to avoid.

Ordering a takeaway over the phone or online

Takeaway meals are considered to be 'distance selling', so information must be made available at the point of purchase and point of delivery.

Follow the steps listed in the 'Eating out at a restaurant, café or food outlet' section:

  • check that the allergen information is available on the menu, online or over the telephone 
  • Be very clear about your allergy/intolerance and give examples of the foods that make you ill.
  • when ordering for several people, make sure the restaurant labels your meal, so you know which order is safe for you to eat

 If you do have a problem: see the NHS website here for immediate advice on what to do. If you suffer anaphylactic shock call 999 immediately