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Knowing and understanding the main food allergies is extremely important if you are looking to work in the hospitality industry. A food allergy could lead to pain, irritation, and even death. Since serving the guests oftentimes includes answering questions about the menu, it’s key to find out if anyone has an allergy. If so, you can safely advise them on what they can and cannot have from the menu. Knowing and understanding the 14 main food allergies is incredibly important in the hospitality industry.

Even if it is visible on the menu, it is still important to know what contains what in the items, and if you are unsure always ask! Don’t guess, you do not know how bad the allergy is and can get.

The 14 food allergies are:

  • Gluten – Wheat, rye, barley, oats, and products made from these items contain gluten.
  • Peanuts – Usually, peanuts are visible in a dish, but look out for peanut oil and sauces.
  • Soy – Soy is often present in unexpected foods, including canned tuna and meat, baked goods, crackers, energy bars, low-fat peanut butter, and canned soups.
  • Molluscs – Molluscs include mussels, scallops, oysters, clams, snails, squid, and octopus. It can be found in oyster sauce as well.
  • Nuts – Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc. are usually pretty visible as well. Still, look out for oils and dressings made with any of these nuts.
  • Sesame – Most commonly used in bread and visible, however, sesame oil is also often used in sauces and dressings.
  • Crustaceans – These include shrimp, lobster, and crab. They are also often used in fish stocks and seafood seasoning.
  • Celery – Usually very visible or often used in soups and spice mixes.
  • Lupin – Type of bean, but used often in pasta and gluten-free options. – People with a peanut allergy can also be allergic to lupin, as these are from the same family of plants.
  • Eggs – Eggs are often used in meringue, dressings, mayonnaise, foams, meatballs, and frosting, etc.
  • Lactose – Dairy and lactose are usually processed within other food, such as cheeses, sauces, etc.
  • Sulfur dioxide – Sulphur dioxide (E220) and other sulfites (from numbers E221 to E228) are used as preservatives in a wide range of foods, especially soft drinks, sausages, burgers, and dried fruits and vegetables. It naturally occurs in wines and beers.
  • Fish – Fish is usually the main ingredient of the dish, however can be processed in sauces and stock.
  • Mustard – Mustard is used in way more products than you might think. These include; soups, dressings, sauces, pickles, and way more.

While most of these are very easily seen or identified in a dish, it is important to understand that it sometimes can be in the oil or less visible on the dish. Therefore, it is important to make sure you know what is in the dish or ask when you are unsure.

This does not mean there aren’t any other allergies, but these are the most common. If you want to know more about how to handle an allergy or an allergic reaction? Check out our Free Allergies Training.

Anna van Buuren