There are 14 Named Allergens: Here’s What They Are

In the world of food preparation and service, understanding and managing food allergens is critical to ensure the safety and well-being of consumers. With allergies affecting millions worldwide, knowledge of common food allergens is not just a regulatory requirement—it’s a cornerstone of food hygiene.

This article will tell you the 14 named allergens identified by food safety authorities, highlighting their sources, and the allergy symptoms to watch out for.

The 14 Named Allergens:

Cereals Containing Gluten

Wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt can possess gluten. These grains are often used in the creation of foods like bread, pasta, cakes, etc.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Gastrointestinal issues like bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation.
  • Skin reactions such as rashes, itching, or eczema.
  • Respiratory problems including asthma or difficulty breathing.


Shrimp, crab, lobster, and crayfish contain allergenic proteins, posing risks in seafood dishes and sauces.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Skin reactions including hives, eczema, and itching.
  • Swelling of the lips, throat, and face.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.


Found in baked goods, sauces, and processed foods, eggs are a common allergen that requires careful management in kitchens.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Anaphylaxis in severe cases.
  • Gastrointestinal reactions like vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma or difficulty breathing.


Present in obvious forms like fillets and less obvious ones like fish sauces, it’s crucial to note for those with fish allergies.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Anaphylaxis in severe cases.
  • Gastrointestinal reactions like vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma or difficulty breathing.


Peanut allergies can be severe. Peanuts find their way into various cuisines, sauces, and desserts.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Severe reactions can lead to anaphylaxis.
  • Skin reactions, including hives, redness, or swelling.
  • Gastrointestinal issues, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or vomiting.


Used in a multitude of products like tofu, soy sauce, and processed foods, soy is a prevalent allergen.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Skin reactions such as itching or eczema.
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort including diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Respiratory issues like wheezing or asthma.


Including lactose, milk is used in a vast range of products from baked goods to sauces and processed foods.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhoea, and gas.
  • Skin reactions, including hives and eczema.
  • Respiratory issues, including runny nose or wheezing.


Tree nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios can cause allergic reactions. They’re used in desserts, chocolates, and more.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Anaphylaxis in severe cases.
  • Skin reactions, such as hives or itching.
  • Digestive symptoms, including nausea, abdominal pain, or diarrhoea.


Found in stocks, soups, and salads, celery can be an allergen that’s sometimes overlooked.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Skin reactions, including itching or hives.
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea or vomiting.
  • In severe cases, respiratory symptoms or anaphylaxis.


Used in various forms (seeds, powder, leaves), mustard can be a hidden allergen in sauces and condiments.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Skin conditions such as hives or redness.
  • Gastrointestinal problems including cramps and vomiting.
  • Respiratory symptoms in some cases.

Sesame Seed

Often found in bread, hummus, and Asian cuisines, sesame seeds pose allergy risks.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Anaphylaxis in severe cases.
  • Skin reactions, including hives or eczema.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphites

Used as preservatives in dried fruits, wines, and some processed foods, these can provoke asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Respiratory problems, particularly for those with asthma, such as wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms in some individuals.
  • In rare cases, skin reactions.


Common in European breads and pastries, lupin is a legume that can cause allergic reactions.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Similar to peanut and other legume allergies, including possible anaphylaxis.
  • Skin reactions like hives or eczema.
  • Gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms similar to other food allergies.


Snails, mussels, oysters, and squids contain allergens, relevant in seafood dishes and supplements.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
  • Anaphylaxis in severe cases.
  • Skin and respiratory reactions similar to other seafood allergies

The importance of knowing the food allergens

Understanding these allergens is crucial for anyone involved in food preparation, serving, and retail because an allergic reaction can result in fatality.

Allergy awareness courses play a vital role in educating about safe handling practices, cross-contamination prevention, and customer communication regarding allergens present in food.

If you would be interested in up-skilling on allergy awareness via an accredited 2-hour course, and gaining a formal certificate, then check out Essential Food Hygiene’s allergy awareness course here. It costs just £10 per person.