Allergies and Prevention


by Umedjon Tushpolotov

Allergies can destroy lives and businesses! Waiters must possess thorough knowledge to ensure the safety and satisfaction of diners.


  1. Food Allergies: An adverse reaction by the immune system to a normally harmless substance in food (allergen)
  2. Anaphylaxis: A severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure.
  3. Allergen: A protein in the food that induces an allergic reaction.
  4. Food Intolerance: An adverse reaction to a normally harmless substance in food that does NOT involve the immune system; but the inability to digest that substance by the digestive system.

Food allergies:

  • A reaction from the immune system
  • Symptoms come on rapidly after
  • Often triggered by specific foods (e.g. peanuts or shellfish)
  • Can be serious and life-threatening

Food intolerance:

  • Does not involve the immune system
  • Causes symptoms many hours after eating just a small amount of the food eating a reasonable amount of the problem food
  • Can be caused by many different peanuts or shellfish foods
  • Tends to cause unpleasant symptoms

Allergies Symptoms

The symptoms of a food allergy almost always develop a few seconds or minutes after eating the food. Some people may develop a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), which can be life-threatening

Food Allergy/ Anaphylaxis symptoms:

  • Tingling and itching in the throat and mouth
  • Swollen tongue *Rashes and hives
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, and throat
  • Tight chest *Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty in swallowing and speaking
  • Shortness of Breath *Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling dizzy and lightheaded
  • Fainting
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Abdominal pain and/or diarrhea
  • Sneezing and itchy eyes

Allergies Sources

Food businesses in the UK have been required since December 2014 to be aware of 14 prescribed allergens in their food. These are 14 different allergens that need to be pointed out to all customers so that someone with an allergy can make an informed choice of what they can eat.

The 14 Common Allergens standard has been adopted by many countries worldwide, including the SFDA locally.


gluten allergies

Sources: cereals such as wheat, barley, and oats.

Usage as an ingredient: Foods containing flour like most types of bread, doughs (pizza, pasta, pies, pastry), cakes, deep-fried foods (batter and flour), etc.


This includes celery stalks, leaves, seeds, and the root called celeriac. You can find celery in celery salt, salads, some meat products, soups, and stock cubes.



Crabs, lobster, prawns, and scampi are crustaceans. Shrimp paste, often used in Thai and Southeast Asian curries or salads, is an ingredient to look out for.


egg allergies

Eggs are often found in cakes, meat products, mayonnaise, mousses, pasta, quiche, sauces, pastries, deep-frying batter, and foods brushed or glazed with egg.


fish dish

Other than main Fish meals, you will find this in some fish sauces, pizzas, relishes, salad dressings, stock cubes, and Worcestershire sauce.


lupin allergies

Other than eating regular Lupins, it can be found in the form of Lupin flour. Lupin flour and seeds can be used in some types of bread, pastries, and even pasta.

Sulphur Dioxides (Sulphites)

Sulphur Dioxides

This is an ingredient often used in dried fruit such as raisins, dried apricots, and prunes. You might also find it in meat products, soft drinks, and vegetables as well as in wine and beer. If you have asthma, you have a higher risk of developing a reaction to sulfur dioxide.


Molluscs allergies

These include mussels, land snails, squid, and whelks, but can also be commonly found in oyster sauce or as an ingredient in fish stews


Liquid mustard, mustard powder, and mustard seeds fall into this category. This ingredient can also be found in bread, curries, marinades, meat products, salad dressings, sauces, and soups.



Milk is a common ingredient in butter, cheese, cream, milk powders, yogurt, and Lattes. It can also be found in foods brushed or glazed with milk and in powdered soups and sauces.



Not to be mistaken with peanuts (which are actually a legume and grow underground), this ingredient refers to nuts that grow on trees, like cashew nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. You can find nuts in bread, biscuits, crackers, desserts, nut powders, stir-fried dishes, ice cream, marzipan (almond paste), nut oils, and sauces.



Peanuts are legumes and grow underground, which is why it’s sometimes called groundnuts. Peanuts are often used as an ingredient in biscuits, cakes, curries, desserts, and sauces (such as satay sauce), as well as in groundnut oil and peanut flour.

Sesame Seeds

sesame seeds

These seeds can often be found in bread (sprinkled on hamburger buns for example), breadsticks, houmous, sesame oil, and tahini. They are sometimes toasted and used in salads.



Often found in edamame beans, miso paste, textured soya protein, soya flour, or tofu, soya is a staple ingredient in oriental food. It can also be found in desserts, ice cream, meat products, sauces, and vegetarian products.



Allergen transfers from food that normally contains it, to food that doesn’t/shouldn’t contain it.

Even the tiniest amount of an allergen can cause an allergic reaction, therefore controls have to be put in place to avoid cross-contamination

How to avoid cross-contamination:

  • Wash your hands regularly between handling different food items, as hands are a vehicle of contamination whether for bacteria or allergens. Always wash your hands and wear gloves before handling any supposed allergy-free food.
  • Use different equipment. Similarly to how different foods should be handled by different equipment (chopping boards, knives, etc…), different equipment should also be used for food that is considered “free” from certain ingredients. For example, in some countries, they have already color-coded equipment dedicated to “free-from-allergens” foods by using the color purple for said purpose.
  • This also includes different machinery and baking equipment
  • Cleaning and Disinfection: Always clean and disinfect all the areas where allergen-free foods are being handled.
  • Use the right equipment. Use disposable one-use tissues to clean surfaces where allergen-free food is prepared. Do NOT use reusable kitchen cloths/towels.
  • Store Separately: Store your allergen-free ingredients separately and away from normal ingredients, as cross-contamination is a possibility in storage, and this includes: Dry Store /Chiller Storage/Freezer Storage


Communication plays a key role when it comes to avoiding an allergic reaction as a result of food consumption. And it’s a two-way responsibility street, a part has to be played by both the manufacturer/producer and the consumer, and it can happen on all scales


At a factory scale, the producer can communicate to the consumer about potential allergens by printing it on the label in the list of ingredients. By law, the allergy-causing ingredients have to be written in visible letters and in bold (this may vary according to the legislation of each country).

Some countries’ law requires that:

  1. Allergens be clearly stated and in visible letters
  2. Allergens can be translated into other languages but it is mandatory to have it written in the native language
  3. Specifies “contains” if said allergen is an ingredient of the product
  4. Specifies “might contain” or “might contain traces of” if there’s any risk of cross-contamination in the production lines

Ingredients information

Ingredients are listed in descending order of their weight, with the largest ingredient first

Hidden Ingredients

Sometimes labels might trick you into thinking that a product does not contain the food product that you are allergic to by specifying a derivative or a component of that food

For example:

  1. a label might not specify that this certain product contains sesame seeds, instead it will say that it contains tahini. Yet tahini is made out of sesame seeds.
  2. a label specifying it contains albumin without mentioning the eggs the albumin came from


It is advised to label allergen-free food at a buffet, especially a self-service buffet so that the customer can have an informed choice of what he’s consuming and avoid any potential issues

A la carte restaurants

Some countries’ law requires restaurants to specify allergens on their menu under each dish or to have a special designated menu in case they offer a certain range of allergen-free food

  • The waiter is the main point of communication between the restaurant and the consumer
  • The waiter has to be trained on allergens and to be informed about their presence in each dish
  • The waiter will take the request of the consumer (if possible to apply) and pass it forward to the chef

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