Food allergens

Some customers must avoid a certain food for medical reasons. Learn about food allergies, avoiding cross contact, and keeping ingredient lists so customers can avoid certain foods.


A food allergy triggers an allergic reaction when someone’s immune system reacts to certain proteins in food.  

Food allergic reactions range from mild to severe: 

  • Mild to moderate symptoms such as:
    • Hives
    • Swelling of the face or mouth
  • Severe, life-threatening symptoms may involve:
    • Difficult breathing
    • Rapid pulse
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Repetitive vomiting

Severe food allergy reactions are often called anaphylaxis. 

For people living with food allergies, a tiny amount of a food allergen can trigger a reaction.

Ingredient lists and food labeling are important to customers who must avoid a specific ingredient for medical reasons.

The nine major food allergens displayed in a circle: peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat and soy.

Major food allergens

On Jan. 1, 2023, sesame became the ninth major food allergen in the U.S.

Allergen labeling is required for packaged food products that contain any of these ingredients.  

Major food allergens must be identified by name in the ingredient list. This must include proteins derived from a major food allergen. 

The nine major food allergens are: 

  • Crustacean shellfish 
  • Eggs 
  • Fish 
  • Milk
  • Peanuts 
  • Sesame
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts 
  • Wheat


Food allergen training

We offer free food allergen training to food businesses in Minneapolis. 

Learn more and request free voucher codes on our food handler training page

Food allergen safety tips

Prepare with care

Take food allergens seriously. 

  • Carefully check food labels
  • Train your staff on food allergy awareness

Avoid cross-contact

  • Maintain accurate recipes onsite listing all ingredients
  • Properly label all foods containing major food allergens and store them away from other food products
  • Follow safe food preparation procedures 
  • Give allergen free food items directly to server or to customer instead of setting the food item on the expo line

Handwashing and cleaning

  • Wash hands and change gloves before handling allergen free food
  • Clean and sanitize
    • Work surfaces
    • Cooking equipment
    • Utensils

Returned food 

  • If a food item is returned to the kitchen for an allergen reason, always remake the item
  • Do not try to remove an allergen and send the food back


The label on a food package tells consumers exactly what is inside the package. 

Keep labels 

Businesses should keep the ingredient list from the label of food items purchased in a

  • Package
  • Bag
  • Box
  • Can
  • Bottle


Examples: packaged buns from a bakery, boxed pasta, prepared sauces, etc. 

Keep your recipes in a centralized location to be able to answer ingredient and allergen questions from your customers. 

Label items you package

If you prepare and package food items for self-service, you must label the items.

Food is packaged if the food business:

  • Bottles, cans, cartons, wraps or bags the product
  • Makes the product available for self-service

Allergy labeling requirements

Apply to:

  • Retail and food service businesses that package, label and offer products for human consumption

Does not apply to:

  • Foods placed in a wrapper or container following a customer’s order at the point of purchase

Identify food allergens on your label by either: 

  • Listing the common or usual name of the food source, followed by the name of the allergen in parentheses. Examples:
    • Flour (wheat)
    • Whey (milk)
  • After the ingredient list, place the word “Contains:” followed by the food allergen. Example:
    • Contains: wheat, milk


  • For tree nuts, declare the specific type of nut
    Examples: almonds, coconut, pecans
  • For fish or crustacean shellfish, declare the species
    Examples: walleye, shrimp, lobster 

Request accessible format

If you need help with this information, please email 311, or call 311 or 612-673-3000.

Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Contact us

Health Department




Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave S, Room 520
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Office hours
8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday


Minneapolis 311


Office hours

7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Monday – Friday