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Last updated: 08.11.18

The importance of allergy awareness training

Proper training in the food sector is hugely important, as there are numerous matters of health and safety to be aware of. From the thorough cooking of food, to first aid in the kitchen, there can be a lot to cover, and appropriate training is essential under EU law. One of the most important considerations is that of food allergies. Many thousands of people in the UK, both children and adults, have allergies, and it’s important that they’re able to go about their day-to-day lives in safety, which means that those working with food need to be equipped with the right knowledge. Let’s take a look at some of the big risks of food allergies, and how training can help prevent them.

What are the risks?

Allergies range from the fairly minor to the incredibly severe. Some people may not even know they have an allergy, as the symptoms may be as minor as a slight tingling in the mouth or lips. However, anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock as it’s also known, can result in an inability to breathe, which is of course life threatening. This can result from even minor contact with food to which the individual is allergic.

As a result, food allergy awareness training is incredibly important for anyone who works with food, whether as part of the manufacturing process, preparation stage, or even during serving. By properly understanding the risks, and how to mitigate those risks, workers can help to ensure their colleagues and end-customers are safe.

What does training cover?

Allergy awareness training will equip a person with all of the most important pieces of information that they need to do their job safely in regard to allergens. Not all training will be the same, but it’s likely to include the following:

Allergy basics

It’s important to understand the basics of what allergies are and how they affect the human body. Not all are the same, and there are several different types of allergy aside from hundreds of potential triggers. Similarly, it’s important to know how an allergy, which is an immune system response, differs from food intolerances, which are generally far less severe.

Common allergies

Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are the most common causes of allergic reactions in children, and peanuts, tree nuts, fruits, fish and shellfish are the most common causes of allergic reactions in adults. Those on an allergy awareness course will learn more about where these are most likely to be encountered, along with other common allergens.


There are a number of important pieces of legislation related to this subject, and learners will find out more about them and how they might apply in the workplace. Given the potential severity of allergic reactions, those working in a food-related environment have strict obligations to those they serve, which means things like having clear labelling and being knowledgeable about the products they’re working with.

Best practice

Ensuring that allergens do not come into contact with those who will react to them means taking certain precautions. We’ve already mentioned the importance of proper labelling, which allows consumers to make the right choices. But of course, this information has to be correct, which it cannot be if the preparation process is not effective. Best practices include things like separating utensils for certain allergens, preparing food separately, and ensuring that the origin of any supplies is thoroughly understood.

Recognising an allergic reaction

Some courses will also help learners understand how to recognise the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, with pointers on what should be done in such an event. Prompt recognition and response can be critical in ensuring that an allergic reaction – especially anaphylaxis – doesn’t result in severe harm to the individual.

Where to find training

As food allergy awareness training is primarily around knowledge, a food and drink allergy online course may be an effective choice. Here at Virtual College, we’re very pleased to be able to bring you food allergy online training, which covers all of the basics that anyone needs to understand how to safely work with foods that could cause an allergic reaction. Our food safety courses also include important information about some of the food preparation best practices in regard to minimising the risks of allergic reactions. Click here to see the various courses on offer.