About Allergens

A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Once the immune system decides that a particular food is harmful, it creates specific antibodies to it.

The next time the individual eats that food, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, in order to protect the body. These chemicals trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system.

The following fourteen key allergens have been designated as Major Serious Allergens (MSA’s) eight foods currently account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions:

  • Cereals containing gluten – Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Spelt, Kamut etc.
  • Milk & milk products (including cows, goats & Ewes milk)
  • Egg & egg products
  • Soybeans & Soya products thereof
  • Peanut & products thereof
  • Tree nuts (walnut, cashew, chestnut etc.) & products thereof
  • Sesame Seeds & products thereof
  • Sulphur Dioxide & Sulphites (at or above 10mg/kg or 10ml/l in final product)
  • Fish & products thereof
  • Crustaceans & products thereof
  • Molluscs & products thereof
  • Mustard & products thereof
  • Celery / Celeriac & products thereof
  • Lupins & products thereof

Items listed in BOLD above are Allergens that are handled by us. 

This list is not exhaustive and for up to date information refer to www.foodallergy.org or www.food.gov.uk - search allergies


  1. It is the policy of Birtwistles Catering Butchers to minimise the risk to consumers of severe and unpleasant allergic reactions by a process of risk assessment and implementation of suitable controls as detailed in the company HACCP system.
  2. All products that contain known allergens, as identified above, must have the allergens declared in the specification and on the product label.  Where allergens are part of a compound ingredient this must also be declared on the label.
  3. Consideration is also given to cross contamination of raw materials during process design and as detailed in the company HACCP system.
  4. This policy will be reviewed regularly to take into account the results of new research.
  5. Current research shows that refined, bleached, deodorised nut oils do not cause anaphylactic reactions, so these will not be considered as risk materials.
  6. Peanuts are the most common cause of severe allergic reactions; therefore, it is the policy of Birtwistles Catering Butchers that the use of peanuts or ingredients containing peanuts is not permitted in production or allowed to be brought onto site by staff, contractors or visitors.