A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Food Allergens


A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Food Allergens

There’s more to running a food business than preparing meals that put a smile on your customer’s faces. There are certain rules and regulations that you have to adhere to in terms of sanitation and allergens.

If you use any common high allergen foods in your business, you have to disclose that. If you don’t and someone has a reaction, they can sue your restaurant.

There are different ways to disclose depending on what kind of food business you run. Check out this guide to learn what the common food allergens are and how you can label your products before they go out to your customers.

Types of Food Allergies 

Before we talk about the food allergen labeling and consumer protection act, let’s discuss what counts as an allergen. Under the law, there are 8 foods that you have to declare.

These are eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, wheat, soybeans, and shellfish.

Other Specifics 

There are some foods that don’t fall into the 8 we listed above that do pose a problem to certain individuals. The FDA does require special packaging for these ingredients.

The main one is gluten. It’s a group of proteins found in grains that can cause a negative immune response in those who have celiac disease. If your products are gluten-free, label them as such so these individuals are aware that they’re safe to eat.

FD&C Yellow No. 9 is a dye that you can find in desserts, beverages, and foods the world over. It can cause uncomfortable itching and hives. If your foods contain this dye, you’ll have to list it.

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You can read more here to learn additional facts about food allergens and recalls. For now, let’s move on to packaging regulations.

Packaged Foods

There are two ways to bring attention to high allergen foods on your packaging. The first way is to list the name of the allergen ingredient, followed by the common term for it in parenthesis.

It will look a little something like this: Flour (wheat). The second way is to have a general statement after your list of ingredients. For example, it may say contains: milk, soy, and wheat.

Prepackaged Foods 

Under FDA regulations, if you go to a restaurant where you build your own sandwich, and said sandwich is wrapped in front of you, the establishment isn’t required to put any labeling on the package.

They may have a sign at the front, which warns patrons of any cross-contamination possibilities. This is especially true in the case of facilities where many foods are prepared using the same machine. If the equipment isn’t cleaned well enough, it can cause an allergic reaction.

Your Complete Food Allergen Guide

If you own a business in the food industry, there’s a lot of rules and regulations that you have to follow to keep your doors open. One of these regulations is labeling.

If you work with any common food allergen, you have to disclose it on your packaging. Failure to do so will put your customers in danger and put you out of work.

Are you looking for more ways to run your restaurant? Check out the Business section of our blog for all the latest tips and tricks.