Food Allergens

It’s easy to get confused between allergies and intolerances.  Let’s try to clear it up and simplify the whole thing!

The information and guidance below is drawn from Allergy UK, the NHS and the Food Standards Agency websites, which you can find by clicking on their links at the bottom of the page

What is food allergy?

Food allergy is caused when the body mistakenly makes an antibody to ‘fight off’ a specific food. When the food is next eaten (or sometimes is just in contact with the skin) it triggers an immune system response which results in the release of histamine and other substances in the body.

These cause various symptoms, depending on where in the body they are released. Very rarely the immune system chemicals are released throughout the body, causing a ‘systemic’ reaction (such as anaphylaxis).

There are 14 allergen groups

The UK Food Standards Agency has very strict rules on this, that every food producer and seller has to comply with and clearly state on their labels (that FoodAdvisr uses).  There are 14 in total, listed below.

  • celery
  • cereals that contain gluten (including wheat, rye, barley and oats)
  • crustaceans (including prawns, crabs and lobsters)
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin (lupins are common garden plants, and the seeds from some varieties are sometimes used to make flour)
  • milk
  • molluscs (including mussels and oysters)
  • mustard
  • tree nuts – such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites (preservatives that are used in some foods and drinks)


14 food allergens

What are the symptoms of food allergy?

Normally food allergy symptoms appear within a few minutes of eating the offending food, although they may be delayed by up to a couple of hours. The symptoms are usually those of ‘classic’ allergy, some of which are listed here:

Gut reactions:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Skin reactions:
  • Itching
  • Swelling (rash or nettle rash)


Respiratory reactions:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Wheeze
  • Cough

Allergen setting screens

How do users set their food allergies?

It’s the first section users complete when using FoodAdvisr, so we’ve ensured to keep it quick and simple.

Before users are able to match their food allergies against your dishes we ask them to toggle their allergens. Once these have been completed, these settings are used by the app in EVERY product scan or menu browse they do! Whether they use a pre-built profile (such as Diabetes), a user’s allergen settings are the first thing FoodAdvisr checks.



How are users notified of an allergen in their selected food?

If a scanned item contains ANY of the allergens that have been set, a white A in a black box will appear against that item. Users, please don’t eat that food!

Changing allergen settings has never been easier, we give users the ability to simply adjust their toggle buttons before checking back to their scan results.

To ensure safe-eating, we advise users to leave their allergen settings after correctly setting them!


Scan results screen

Are you passionate about safe-eating?

As a business, displaying your food allergen information is invaluable to a hungry consumer!

Together we can make eating out safe for everyone, no matter how complex their food allergens or intolerances.

If you’d like more detailed information on food allergens and food labelling, here’s a few links that will help;

Allergy UK


Food Standards Agency