Hidden Food Allergens and How to Find Them

A significant proportion of consumers are subject to food allergies or intolerances (read our previous blog explaining the difference between these two conditions) and when such individuals eat outside the home, they rely on food businesses to provide accurate allergen declarations. As a consequence, Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 was enacted in December 2014 to extend the application of existing allergen declaration law to non-prepacked foods, thereby offering further protection to the health and wellbeing of such consumers. The Regulation outlines the requirement to declare the presence of 14 specified food allergens, and in the Republic of Ireland, businesses must do so in written form.   

Whilst many food businesses successfully address their legal obligations, accurate allergen declaration is a complex task. For example, could you correctly link foods/food components such as spelt, albumin, whey, pecan, anchovy, or scallop with their corresponding allergen category? The table below illustrates how many such substances may act as “hidden” allergens within common menu items, highlighting the danger of potential omission from allergen listings by business owners. To help avoid such risk, the healthpro Menu Mentoring team recommend the following useful tips:

  • choose suppliers with care and build strong relationships with their QC/QA departments
  • inspect all purchased products for clear ingredients labelling
  • download from supplier websites, or request directly, current product specification
  • carefully compare and contrast list of ingredients with ticked allergens
  • be aware of periodic changes to product ingredients and/or brands and update allergen listings accordingly


Food Allergen

Look for……….

Cereals containing Gluten

Semolina, spelt, barley, rye, malt, coucous


Albumin, globulin, ovalbumin, fat substitudes


Casein, whey, lactose, lactalbumin


Almond, pecan, pistachio, macadamia


Trout, herring, anchovy, caviar


Scallop, mussels, squid, clam


Published on 10 July 2018 | Back to July Articles