Ingredients Matter


Sign up for regular updates

As we enter the festive season, food takes centre stage once again in homes up and down the UK.  For those living with a food allergy, we are more than aware of how this can heighten anxiety at a time of year when many others are letting their hair down.

That’s why during this holiday period, Allergy UK is bringing food allergy conversations back to the top of the agenda so this year we want to remind and raise awareness of why Ingredients Matter.

For far too long, families and individuals living with a food allergy have been faced with complex labels on packaged food which can make it difficult to understand if it is a safe food to eat.

From blanket ‘may contain’ statements that sometimes confuse instead of clarify, to inconsistent labelling sizes to coded listings of ingredients and more, the challenges that can come from simply trying to understand what is in a food item before consuming it can often lead to restricting the range of safe food available even further.

The absence of clear and transparent labelling extends beyond the supermarket aisles, echoing as persistent hurdles when dining out. From restaurants not having access to up-to-date ingredient matrix to even refusal of service when it comes to accommodating food allergies.

That’s why in the coming months, Allergy UK will be championing our food allergic community’s right to ‘clear and accurate information’ as outlined in our Patient Charter (2021) because Ingredients Matter.

Food plays a crucial role in everyday life – it’s essential for us all to survive.

Transparent listings of individual ingredients allow those living with a food allergy to make safe food choices and confidently eat in or out of the home without the fear of allergic reaction.

It’s time to acknowledge the often-overlooked daily challenges and anxieties of living with a food allergy, which are often overlooked and dismissed.

It’s Time to Take Allergy Seriously.

Decoding Food Allergy Labelling

Decoding Food Allergy Labelling

Food labelling can be complex and confusing, leaving many individuals uncertain about the safety of the products they consume. Our new leaflet serves as a practical guide to navigating food labels, providing clarity on allergen information and empowering consumers to make informed choices confidently.

Template letter to send to manufacturers

Template letter to send to manufacturers

Manufacturers hold a tremendous amount of responsibility in regard to the packaging of food products, specifically in the labelling of ingredients. Download this letter template to send to food and drink manufacturers calling for improved labelling.

Food allergy

Food allergy

Things change when you or your child are diagnosed with a food allergy. You need to be more careful when buying, preparing and serving food, and when eating away from home.

Ingredients Matter, Allergies Matter, You Matter

We will be having a national conversation on our social media channels around this issue. Come and join in!  We will also be undertaking a digital advertising campaign to raise awareness to those outside the allergic community about why Ingredients Matter, Allergies Matter and You Matter.

Ingredients Matter: Clear and transparent labelling empowers the community to make safe and informed decisions – and these decisions start with knowing what ingredients are in the food you are eating. Full disclosure of all ingredients, not just the top 14 allergens, is needed.

Allergies Matter: In the UK alone, two million people live with one or more food allergies, and the prevalence is rising every year. Allergies are not just a personal responsibility; it’s a shared commitment. It’s time to take allergy seriously.

You Matter: Food is integral to everyday life – we have to eat to survive. For those living with food allergies or caring for someone who does, every meal can become a moment of vigilance and anxiety.

Serving up the Stats:

Some key findings from our ‘Living with a Food Allergy’ surveys.

Parents of children with a food allergy have told us that:

97% of them worry about allergic reactions when not in control of food preparation.  This results in 93% of them feeling like they can never let their guard down. Because the current labelling practices are inadequate to meet their needs, 87% of them believe labelling needs to change.

Meanwhile adults with a food allergy have told us that:

82% of them feel anxious or apprehensive about trying new foods, because 47% have actually had a reaction to food that has been incorrectly labelled. 89% believe that food labelling needs to change, with 72% of the belief that “may contain” products are a hindrance to their shopping experience

Our why 

The amount of ‘may contain’ labelling for nuts and peanuts is huge. Some of it seems logical, e.g. when they make chocolate bars and some have nuts as an ingredient, but others seem very odd, e.g. yoghurt. There needs to be a more standardised approach to what counts/criteria for ‘may contain’.

‘May contain’ can be very misleading. Big supermarkets label all things in their bakeries as ‘May contain’ every top 14 allergen. I am unable to purchase fresh bread or cakes because their full bakery may have something in that may contain peanuts.’

Allergies should be considered as a mental health condition. The toll it takes, the therapy I have to get through is intense, and eating is a basic human need. This need could also kill me, it’s hard to handle. I have been turned away from places to eat or repeatedly told we can’t guarantee. Labels are a guessing game that I have to make a decision on.

Food labelling information

Food labelling information

Overall, food allergen labeling is not only a matter of convenience but a critical element in safeguarding the health and well-being of individuals with food allergies, ensuring they can make safe and informed choices about the foods they consume.

Top 14 allergens

Top 14 allergens

In the UK, there are 14 food allergens that are recognised as the most common ingredients that can cause allergic reactions. Food labels must clearly indicate their presence to help consumers with allergies make informed choices when buying food.

Sign up for allergy alerts

Sign up for allergy alerts

Sometimes foods have to be withdrawn or recalled if there is a risk to consumers. This could be because the allergy labelling is missing or incorrect or if there is any other food allergy risk, such as cross contamination.

How you can support

Help to raise awareness on social media

Get involved in this conversation on our social media platforms.  Every voice helps to spread awareness further. Every like, share, and comment contribute to creating a momentum to spark meaningful conversations within and outside the allergic community.

You can also raise awareness by sharing your own experiences shopping and eating out when managing food allergies. Don’t forget to tag Allergy UK in each post depending on the platform you use.

InstagramFacebook and Twitter

Donate to My Life Your Hands Christmas Fundraising Campaign

This year, our Christmas Fundraising Campaign, shares the story of how Ellas’s night out with a food allergy went seriously wrong due to a lack of understanding. It didn’t quite finish as expected. Instead it ended with her slipping in and out of consciousness and in resus, clinging to life.  The trigger for the traumatic ending of her night out? A bite of a burger that should have been dairy-free – but wasn’t.

The worst only didn’t happen because a quick-thinking friend knew what to do when she witnessed Ella’s anaphylactic reaction.

This Christmas, people who live with severe food allergies put their life in your hands. Please donate to help Allergy UK raise awareness amongst young people on how to be anaphylaxis aware and know what to do in an emergency situation.

To save a life tomorrow, we need your help today.

Donate now.

Have a food allergy inclusive mentality

Three simple steps can help someone living with a food allergy feel less anxious about being in environments with food.

  1. ASK: always ask someone if they have a food allergy
  2. LISTEN: to their reply. If you don’t understand what this might mean, ask them! Don’t second guess. An innocent mistake can bring tragic consequences.
  3. HEED: being dismissive, minimising expressions of concern, impatience at double checking, disregarding specific requests and instructions, all these actions can make being around others and food feel like a gamble.

There is of course more that everyone can be doing to take food allergies seriously. Modern living today means that safely managing a food allergy isn’t something for which the responsibility exclusively falls at the feet of the person with the allergy. We have a collective responsibility as a society – the responsibility lies with us all.

Donate free-from foods to your local food bank

This festive season, consider donating free-from food to your community food banks or the boxes you will find after the tills at your local supermarket. In the spirit of giving, extend a helping hand to families facing the additional financial costs of food allergies, as they face the allergy penalty – the extra costs they have no choice but to pay to provide safe meals for themselves and their loved ones. On average, households living with food allergies will spend 12-27% more on a weekly food shop. Only to be further compounded against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis and the fact that there are no value-range alternatives they can turn to.

Campaign Origin

Campaign Origin

Our major research study in 2021 gave us some key insights into living with allergic disease, as well as public perceptions of allergy. Thank you to all those who participated in this important piece of research.

Campaign Launch

Campaign Launch

In 2022, we launched our campaign, ‘It’s Time to Take Allergy Seriously’ to bring our Mission to life. Highlighting the psychological impact and isolation that comes with having an allergy.

Food Allergy

Food Allergy

For the first phase of our campaign to take allergy seriously, the focus of our conversations shifted to raising awareness of food allergies and what it’s like to live with a food allergy.

Skin Allergy

Skin Allergy

For the second phase of our campaign, we wanted to encourage people to take a closer look to truly see and understand the truth behind living with allergic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis.

Venom Allergy

Venom Allergy

For the third phase of our campaign we focused on venom allergy aiming to create buzzing and informed conversations around wasp and bee allergies and what to do.