Realities of Allergies

To keep those of us who have food allergies or intolerances safe, it’s important that people who serve food and drink make it clear what’s in their products. This guide will help you know what info to look out for when choosing food and drink at home and on the go.

If you’ve got a food allergy, your immune system reacts to some substances you eat that other people find harmless. Most allergic reactions are mild, with common symptoms including things like itchy red rashes on your skin, or swelling of the face. That said, severe allergies can cause a reaction called anaphylaxis – more commonly known as anaphylactic shock. This can be fatal if not treated immediately.

Food intolerance is different from an allergy. That’s because it doesn’t involve the immune system. This means food intolerances aren’t generally life-threatening although they can make life difficult.

There are 14 ingredients that cause allergies or intolerances that must be identified on pre-packed food labels. These are:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Crustaceans (e.g. prawns and crabs)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin (seed and flour)
  • Milk
  • Molluscs (e.g. mussels, oysters)
  • Mustard
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Sulphur dioxide & sulphites (over 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/l).

What about food and drink that isn't sold pre-packed?

They’ve got to have clear information about ingredients available before you buy. Whether that’s on a menu, chalkboard, shelf label, or spoken by staff. If you’re eating out or ordering a takeaway, don’t be afraid to say that you have a food allergy or intolerance. It’s really important to know what you’ve ordered is safe to eat or drink.

If you think you’re allergic or intolerant to an ingredient in food, it’s important you go and get properly diagnosed. Just cutting food groups out of your diet without medical advice isn’t a good idea, because it could mean you miss out on vital nutrients.

Check out more food and drink allergy advice or view a complete list of allergies and intolerances on the Food Standards Scotland website. 

Head back to the Food Standards Scotland campaign page for more information on food safety, healthy eating tips and more.