Kirsty’s Advice On Shopping With Food Allergies

Getting diagnosed with a food allergy is life-changing. I sometimes felt quite overwhelmed when my son got diagnosed with multiple food allergies as a toddler. This guide has been put together to give some useful advice on how to handle your first few shopping trips:

What’s The Law? Food Allergies On Packaging

  • 14 major allergens must be listed or highlighted on all packaged foods.
  • These allergens are dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soya, gluten, fish, sesame, crustaceans, molluscs, lupin, sulphites, mustard, and celery.
  • Even if the ingredient used is unfamiliar, the actual allergen must be listed after it, e.g. Casein ( Milk), Bulgar (Wheat).
  • Loose & non-packaged foods, like food in sandwich stores & in-store bakeries, don’t have to list allergens in full as long as the information is available.

‘May Contain’ Statements.

These are voluntary statements, so their absence doesn’t rule out cross-contamination:

These statements mean that even if you or your child have eaten a product before without reaction, it could be contaminated in the future. So many foods carry these statements before many allergens can be airborne. So if an ingredient is handled in a factory, it could cause cross-contamination. It can be helpful to talk to the manufacturer to understand the level of risk.

Step By Step Advice.

1: Pre-plan:

Pre-plan your weekly menu; this will help you focus on what you need and hopefully stop you from feeling overwhelmed.

Then use apps & website filters to help you build your shopping list, allowing you to go into the store with a clear action plan.

Until you build confidence heading into the store allows you to check all product labels, whilst online shopping gives less control, as recipes may have changed.

2: Watch the Salts, Sugars & Saturated Fats:

Not all free-from foods are the same; whilst we strive to make our food as healthy as possible, some can be nutritionally poor.

3: Read every label every time:

Ensure you check the packaging every time you buy something, responsible manufacturers should highlight allergen changes on the front of the pack, but this isn’t always done.

Therefore it is best to read the label when it goes in your shopping trolley and also trains everyone in the house to read the label before you eat it.

Support Groups.

Support groups can be so helpful in getting answers to questions and tips from people who are going through similar experiences. They can also be a great source of emotional support; here are a few we know of:

Additional support resources can be found on Allergy UK and

You may also find these pages useful:

This guide is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health professional.