RC blog website Header 2560x1102

Beverage Manufacturers, This Is How You Manage Allergens in Drinks

5 2021

With drink allergies on the rise across the world, it’s critical that beverage producers understand best practices around managing allergens in drinks.

Let’s have a look at how allergies are changing the beverage industry, for both consumers and manufacturers. Here’s how to create the best drink for allergies.

What is a food or drink allergy?

An allergy occurs when a person consumes a food or beverage product that contains an ingredient which their body perceives as a threat. This causes an immune system reaction that may include serious symptoms like shortness of breath and facial swelling. Allergic reactions to food or drink can be life-threatening or deadly. These reactions can be triggered by even a trace amount of the allergen. 

Intolerance is a reaction that occurs within the digestive system, when a person’s body is not able to digest an element in a particular food or drink. Someone with an intolerance may experience indigestion, bloating, or cramping after eating a tainted product.

Get in touch with the RC Cola Team for more information on handling allergens  in drinks


Allergies: a growing issue

Over the last few decades, the world has seen a major spike in the number of children and adults who are diagnosed with food allergies. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by a staggering 50% from 1997 to 2011! 

Around 32 million people living in the United States have a food allergy. According to the Food Allergy Research and Education Foundation, some 200,000 Americans seek medical help each year for acute allergic reactions triggered by food or drink. 


Legal impact of allergies on the beverage industry

The uptick in allergies has majorly impacted the food and beverage industry. Because food allergens or allergens in drinks can potentially cause life-threatening reactions, legislation has been passed all over the world to ensure that manufacturers properly label their products.

The UK Food Safety Act, enacted in 1991, required that food and beverage makers list all known allergens on the labels of their products. FDA standards in the United States followed suit soon thereafter, making it mandatory for all food and drink labels to warn consumers about food allergens or allergens in drinks within the products.

Manufacturers who don’t follow these protocols about food allergens may wind up with serious legal issues. A UK-based food company recently was slapped with a £93,000 fine for not specifying that their yogurt dip included egg whites.

But besides needing to label each and every allergen in their products, manufacturers are also contending with another issue. Cross-contamination, in which trace amounts of an allergen are transferred from surface to surface, might mean that a product which shouldn’t contain an allergen actually includes very small amounts of the substance.

The responsibility to avoid cross-contamination through proper cleaning and safety standards falls squarely on the shoulders of the manufacturer. If an unlabeled food allergen is discovered through random testing or an allergic reaction suffered by a customer, pleading ignorance won’t spare the manufacturer from serious legal consequences.

Get in touch with the RC Cola Team!

Common allergens in drinks

There are hundreds of potential allergens, but the vast majority of allergic reactions caused by beverages can be traced to these 8 ingredients:


Commonly found in beer, malt drinks and barley water, barley contains high amounts of gluten, a protein which can cause serious allergic reactions.

Egg protein

Winemakers commonly use albumin from egg whites as a clarifying agent to filter and refine wines. The tiny amounts found in wine are enough to trigger allergic reactions. Protein drinks are often a source of egg protein too.


Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye, making it an extremely common ingredient in many drinks. Allergic reactions can include serious symptoms, such as anaphylaxis. 


While grapes are the central ingredient in wine, they are also present in a number of other drinks, including smoothies, fruit drinks, grape juice and sodas.


Many energy drinks and teas contain histamines, naturally occurring chemicals which are also produced by the body’s immune system. In some people, they cause allergic reactions.


Hops are the ingredient which determines how bitter a beer tastes. They are also found in ciders and some sodas. Hops contain gluten and can cause allergic reactions.


Like barley and hops, this grain ingredient contains gluten, making it a no-go for people with gluten allergies.

Seafood proteins

Isinglass, a protein taken from the swim bladders of fish, is used as a refining agent in juice, cider, beers and wine. For people with seafood allergies, this can lead to a serious allergic reaction.

Get in touch with the RC Cola Team for more information on handling allergens  in drinks

5 things you need to be aware of when producing beverages

Legal and insurance coverage

With drink allergies on the rise and costly litigation a very real possibility, it’s critical that you take steps to protect yourself and your business. Seek professional advice on any potential liability issues by consulting with an attorney and insurance broker about the proper coverage in your jurisdiction. Even if you’re confident in your company’s safety standards, you should have a solid back-up plan in place to help you manage any unexpected challenges down the road. 

Keep ingredients as clean as possible

The best medicine is prevention. In order to save yourself a headache later on, take proactive steps now to ensure your ingredient list is as clean as can be. Whenever possible, substitute out known allergens for alternatives. Even if these alternatives might be more expensive in the short-term, they’re a wise investment that will make your beverage company more friendly to allergy sufferers. Establishing your brand’s reputation as a beverage company that’s conscious of drink allergies is sure to benefit you in the future. Consult with an RC Cola International specialist to see what substitutions might be best for your company.

Maintain high safety and cleanliness standards in your factories

Even a trace amount of an allergen in a drink can be enough to trigger a serious allergic reaction in a consumer, so maintaining the highest possible operating standards is paramount.  Clearly lay out internal company standards around drink allergens. Issues like cross contamination can easily occur when operating standards slip. Conduct regular surprise inspections to fight complacency, and keep all manufacturing processes under strict observation. 

Get in touch with the RC Cola Team!

Ensure your labelling contains all possible allergens

People who have food allergies regularly check the labels on the products they consume to keep themselves safe and healthy. If your product contains an allergy not listed on the label, this could result in a medical emergency for your consumer and even a lawsuit. At the very least, the discovery of an unlisted food allergen will result in a negative impression for your brand. Don’t forget that an accurate label serves as an insurance policy for your business.

Appropriate training at all points throughout your process

Everyone from workers on the production line to senior management should be properly educated about allergens and best practices for mitigating risks. Don’t assume that employees on the ground understand just how seriously a person is affected by an allergic reaction to a drink. By taking the time to explain the gravity of the issue to your staff, you’ll provide them with crucial motivation to comply with drink allergy policies and regulations. 

While they may not be at the forefront of your company’s agenda, allergens in drinks can be a make or break factor for your beverage business. Luckily, there are tried-and-true strategies for managing allergens in drinks that provide a solid foundation for success. An informed plan aimed at creating the best drink for allergies drinks benefits both your brand and your customers alike.

At RC Cola, we stay on top of the beverage industry and are familiar with everything to do with allergens and beverage production. We’re happy to share this information and help our partners avoid issues with allergies that can impact the success of a beverage product. Get in touch with RC Cola for more advice on dealing with allergens.