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Virtual College’s resources for food handlers support food allergy awareness week

Ilkley, UKLearning NewsVirtual College by Netex

To help support and promote food allergy awareness week, amongst those involved in catering and food production, in particular, Virtual College is providing a range of online resources.


Food allergy reactions can range from mild to very serious cases which may even lead to anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction) and death. Food allergies are quite common - in the UK, the incidence of hospital admissions due to food allergies in the UK increased by 500% between 1990 and 2007.Between one and two per cent of adults and from five to eight per cent of children have a food allergy.

This year, Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 14-20 - a milestone 20th year of this annual week of action, education and support. 

Virtual College’s resources are aimed at food handlers in a wide variety of job roles. They include items such as quizzes, news, top tips, posters and infographics and aim to raise awareness of food allergy, highlighting the significance of food allergens and why food handlers need to be aware of them. 

In December 2014, the law on how allergen information is provided by food businesses changed, to make it easier when buying food or eating out with an allergy or intolerance.

Under EU law, any prepacked food or drink sold in the UK must clearly state on the label if it contains any of the 14 allergens identified. These ingredients include items commonly used, such as eggs, fish, milk and peanuts.

Food businesses also need to provide information on any of these 14 allergens used as ingredients for any food or drink sold without packaging or wrapped on site. It can be provided either in writing or orally by a member of staff. Where the specific allergen information is not provided upfront, clear signposting to where this information could be obtained must be given.

The allergen information rules mean that:

  • you can ask for information about 14 allergens, if used as an ingredient in the food you are buying, when you eat out
  • you will see allergenic ingredients emphasised (for example, using bold, italics or colours) on prepacked foods

As one of the leading suppliers of online training for catering and associated industries, Virtual College hopes that these free resources will help to spread awareness and reduce the incidence of food allergic reactions.

These free resources will be posted to the Virtual College social media accounts during Food Allergy Awareness Week. 

Infographics and posters can also be downloaded from the Virtual College website at: