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Catering and Allergies

If your business prepares and serves food and drink, it is essential that you provide customers with the information they require to make informed choices about the ingredients used, for those with allergies.

Hospitality businesses have moved towards catering for customers with a wider range of dietary needs such as gluten or dairy free options or for personal choice including sugar free options, vegetarian and vegan menus.

Some of these changes have been consumer driven and in recent times in response to an ethical approach to how food is produced and the impact on the environment and have become a growth area in consumer spending and is therefore an important aspect to which businesses can respond and to attract more customers and share of the market in demand for these options. The focus within this Toolkit, is to provide simple steps in how your business can consider catering for these dietary requirements.


Ensure that different food options are clearly labelled to identify of allergens and to point out if the dish is suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

Catering venues should also have an allergens book in which all dishes from the menu have ingredients and potential allergens identified. This can be made available to customers to check the ingredients for each dish and as a reference point for staff to quickly advise customers correctly.

It is essential that this resource is kept up to date and accurate. Should the kitchen use any substitute ingredients, or products from a different supplier, it is essential that these are also recorded and information updated for customer reference.

The Food Standards Agency website is a good source for guidance on the steps a business should take to ensure compliance and safety for customers.

Events and functions

For larger events such as functions and weddings, ask the event organiser to check with those attending what dietary requirements are in advance to allow chefs to prepare in advance and provide options that meet the guests’ needs (such as gluten free, sugar free, nut or other specific ingredient allergen, vegan or vegetarian).

Buffet service

For customers requiring assistance, offer to have staff on hand who can help with selecting and carrying food within the dining area. Consider also the height of the buffet service area where lower surfaces would allow easier access for all. As the buffet service will not have a printed menu, ensure that the food items are clearly labelled, even potentially with a list of key ingredients and complete details in the allergens book.


Consider additional customer provision such as:

  • Seating with armrests
  • Bendable drinking straws to help anyone who has difficulty holding cups or glasses
  • Provide a mug with a handle to help holding rather than straight sided cups.

There are further simple steps that you can consider depending on what you offer and for further information, please follow the links below:

Event specific

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