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Please be advised that food prepared here may contain these ingredients: milk, eggs, wheat, soybean, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish
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Food allergy warning

Although eating food is perhaps one of the most enjoyable things there is, there are just some foods that will not cooperate with our immune systems. Some individuals have hypersensitivity over particular food ingredients. This medical condition can have mild symptoms to life-threatening severe reactions for some. That is why food business owners must always be wary of the foods they serve to their customers. A food allergy warning helps food businesses to inform their customers of the potential allergens contained in some of the dishes on your menu.  

From 2018 to 2019, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimated that at least 32 million people suffer from food allergies in the US. Of these consumers, 26 million are adults whereas approximately 5.6 million are children. The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention predicted that one in three people with known food allergies contracts a triggered adverse reaction from restaurant dining. Food allergies appear when our body's immune response system starts to react to a certain food or food product. That's why preventing them is crucially important in the food industry and for any food business.

Read more about what a food allergy warning is, who needs it, why we need it at all, and find the template above.


Major food allergen

According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), eight foods are identified as major food allergens in the food supply:

  • milk
  • egg
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • tree nuts
  • peanuts
  • wheat, and
  • soybean

The most recent developments on the food allergy regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently published the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act. Under this law, sesame will also be recognized as the 9th major allergen starting January 1, 2023. It means that all food businesses need to inform their customers in any way about the food allergens their food may contain.

These eight major allergens in food are the cause of 90% of severe allergies and serious allergic reactions in the US. Milk allergy is most common for children with food allergies in the US, whereas tree nut food allergy accounts for the highest percentage among all US consumers with food hypersensitivities.

It means labeling on the menu, on the homepages, when entering the food business, when ordering food, when processing during food manufacturing - throughout the whole food supply. 


How should food allergic people act?

Food allergies can be serious, especially when triggered and left untreated. Individuals are responsible for knowing which food allergies they may have. Despite this, food businesses should inform customers of any potential food allergens that their food may contain. 

This medical condition can only be triggered if an individual consumes, sometimes inhales, a triggering allergen that contains allergy-causing proteins. The immune system mistakes these particular compounds in the food as something harmful and reacts to it as defense which manifests as hypersensitivity reactions.

People with food allergies can experience a broad range of reactions and can manifest differently based on the food source and the affected individual. Medications are available to quickly address food allergy reactions and early detection is key with severe symptoms. 


Here are some of the most common food allergy symptoms:

  • Hives
  • Skin reactions
  • Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth
  • Face, tongue, or lip swelling
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Dizziness and/or lightheadedness
  • Swelling of the throat and vocal cords
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Allergic reaction is a serious health problem, don't underestimate it. If any of your customers experience any of these symptoms, it doesn't matter how common symptoms are, they should stop eating immediately and seek immediate medical attention.

Allergy warning signs

How can food allergy warning signs help your restaurant?

While the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires any food manufacturer dealing with pre-packaged foods to declare allergens in their food labeling or food packaging, this does not apply to restaurants. Using a food allergy warning sign has many benefits to any food establishment.

Here are a few advantages in using a food allergy warning sign:

  • Assurance of food safety. While the main point of using an allergen warning is to inform consumers, it also helps ensure them that your restaurant team takes food allergies seriously. It can serve as a reminder for restaurant staff to inform customers of the risks of common food allergens that could be present in your food items.
  • Consumer awareness. Especially for restaurants that do not generally provide an ingredients list of their dishes, a food allergy warning sign would be most helpful. Employees can emphasize to customers about the sign or it can be placed somewhere where it can be easily seen. This food allergy warning can help customers make informed choices on which dishes to purchase.
  • Cost. With well-informed consumers, your restaurant gains less risk of causing foodborne illnesses as a result of food allergies. In case of common allergies with customers, your food business is liable to help the ailing customer which can be costly for both parties. Properly informing customers about the common allergens in your foods reduces such risks.
  • Protection from other consumer issues. A severe reaction from food allergies and the lack of a warning about the presence of allergens can lead to more food safety issues. Customers can file lawsuits, perform any legal action, or demand compensations which can, in turn, affect the reputation of your food business.

In preventing problems from food allergies, information from the food handlers is key to preventing any further problems. Food allergy warning labels can be printed as large and visible signage or on the restaurant menu as additional information. Additionally, food employees can help consumers access the information by pointing it out to them. A food allergy warning is just an example of some of the food safety manufacturing practices that a food business can implement. Other tools such as opening and closing checklists, a consumer advisory statement, and informational posters are also available. Check out our HACCP plan template hub for more free visual tools.


Who needs an allergy warning?

A food allergy warning is meant for both your employees and customers. Because this topic is so important, focus from both customers and employees is important to ensure food safety and protect public health. Specifically, here is how customers and employees can benefit from a food allergy warning.


1. Your customers. Considering that a large portion of customers can be allergic to any of 8 major food allergens, a part of the obligations of food restaurant operators is to inform and alert customers about any food allergen on the menu. An undeclared allergen and allergic reactions to foods can sometimes be life-threatening and can endanger the reputation of your food business. As such, proper dissemination of the information is important for customer safety.

2. Your team. Food handling and preparation significantly contribute to the control of food allergens in a kitchen area. It is very hard to ensure that a dish that does not contain any food allergen will not be cross-contaminated by one that has a food allergen prepared in a single kitchen. As such, your employees must know how to inform customers of the risks, if there are any.

There is no federal regulation for allergen labeling requirements stating that restaurants are required to declare a food allergy warning on their menu. Despite this, some states such as Massachusetts, Maryland, New York City, and other states in the U.S. have local laws that require food companies to put up clear food allergy warning signs with a precautionary statement.

Food allergy warning

Food allergy warning examples

Depending on the situation, you can use different forms of food allergy advisory warnings. Some of them are meant for the customers, whereas some can be for your team members. The most important thing is that the food allergy warning conveys the intended message which is to let consumers tell the food handlers whether they have food allergies or none.

Here are a few statements that you could use in a food allergy warning sign. Feel free to use them accordingly. 


Some food allergy advisory statements examples:

  • Please be advised that food here may contain these ingredients: milk, eggs, wheat, soybean, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, and peanuts. lupin, mollusks, mustard, sesame, celery, sulfur dioxide (including sulfites)

  • Foods in this restaurant are processed in a kitchen that produces dishes with milk, wheat, soybean, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, and egg products.

  • If you have a food allergy or special dietary requirements, please inform a member of staff or ask for more information.

  • You're entering a nut-free zone. Do not bring nuts into this area.

  • Food allergies? Please let us know.

  • This area is scent-free for the health and comfort of those with allergies

  • Please tell us if you have a food allergy.

  • Food allergy. Do not heat any type of shellfish in the microwave

  • Nut-free zone. Please do not bring any food product containing nuts (peanuts or tree nuts) into the area. Thank you for helping to keep our children safe.

  • This kitchen is gluten-free.

You can use our free food allergy warning template above and customize it with the information that you want to share with your customers. Download and print your food allergy warning template and place it in visible areas of your food company as precautionary labels. Remind your employees of how important these warnings are for the sake of your consumers with food allergies.


To summarize and help you understand more about food allergy warnings, here are a few common frequently asked questions:

  • How do you write a food allergy warning?

In writing a food allergy warning, it is important to include which allergen is most likely to be in your dishes. Alternatively, the warning signs must be able to tell that customers can freely as food employees in your establishment about the presence of common food allergens in your dishes.

  • Are there warning signs before a food allergy?

Before adverse reactions kick in, the most common food allergy symptoms manifest as itching or tingling in the mouth, hives, or some swelling. If left untreated, these symptoms can worsen.

  • What are the 14 legal allergens?

In other countries such as the UK, 14 major legal allergens are recognized 

  • milk
  • egg
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • tree nuts
  • peanuts
  • wheat
  • soy
  • lupin
  • mollusks
  • mustard
  • sesame
  • celery
  • sulfur dioxide (including sulfites) 
Food Safety Management System

Allergy warning is an important part of your Food Safety Management System

Putting up a food allergy warning is not enough to ensure food safety in your kitchen or to inform your customers. Your food safety management system (FSMS) must include a thorough monitoring procedure on how to ensure food safety regarding food allergens. Your team must be able to efficiently monitor improper food handling practices which can cause problems including cross-contamination of major food allergens.

A comprehensive FSMS can help prevent problems from food allergens and ensure compliance with food safety regulations. At FoodDocs, giving every food business access to an efficient, easy, and comprehensive FSMS is what we aim for. To top that off, we provide a way for food businesses to gain a digital Food Safety Management System fit for specific operations. 

Our system software is powered by artificial intelligence and intuitively helps food business owners get a complete digital FSMS in just an average of 15 minutes. The process starts with answering a few basic questions about your operations and the nature of your food business. After this, our system cross-references your answers with similar-natured food businesses and automatically generates a digital FSMS for you.


Here are a few core benefits that you can get from our digital FSMS:

  • Automatically set up digital monitoring forms that can help your team save time. These forms can be set to be automatically filled with information based on previously entered data. 

  • Receive smart notifications from our mobile app that reminds your employees about daily tasks.

  • Get a real-time dashboard that can help you review your food safety operations. Identify which areas need attention and which ones are doing well.

  • Get access to cloud storage where you can store all of your documents in a single space. Organize and access everything efficiently.

With our digital FSMS, you can save at least 20% of your time from supervising your food safety tasks. Use this time to manage other business operations and help your food establishment gain more. 

Our system was conceptualized and made by food safety experts who have been in the food business for years. Rest assured, our team at FoodDocs understands your needs and how important a comprehensive FSMS is. With our digital FSMS program, we can help you remain compliant with local and international food safety laws and protect your consumers from any foodborne disease.

Join more than 10,000 satisfied customers that are enjoying our services at FoodDocs. Achieve compliance and remain compliant with food safety rules by trying our free, 14-day trial.

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