Food Allergens and Ingredients of Concern

To prioritize the safety and well-being of our dining patrons, UC Davis Dining Services recognizes and labels for the top 9 major food allergens as well as several other ingredients of concern on our menu signage. These easily-identifiable labels are visible on digital menus and point-of-service signage to help our dining patrons make informed choices about their meals. We also communicate any Precautionary Advisory Labels (PALs) from manufacturers, indicating potential allergen or ingredient exposure. Your health is our priority, and we're committed to supporting your dietary needs!

Read below to learn more about how we communicate food allergens, other ingredients of concern, and Precautionary Advisory Labels on our menu signage.

The Top Major Food Allergens

We recognize and label for the top 9 major food allergens on our menu signage, as identified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Below is a brief description of each allergen:

  • Dairy: Milk, cream, butter, cheese, lactose, yogurt, casein, and whey are common examples of dairy that might be found on our menus. The "DAIRY" allergen label indicates the presence of dairy in our dishes.
  • Eggs: Aside from many breakfast dishes and baked goods, the egg allergen might also be found in mayonnaise, sauces, dressings, some pastas, and breads. The "EGG" allergen label can be found on any foods containing egg.
  • Fish: Fishes commonly served in our dining areas include catfish, cod, salmon, swai, snapper, surimi (imitation crab), rockfish, pollock, tuna, and fish roe. Fish is sometimes found in sauces (like Worcestershire sauce), as anchovies are often a flavoring ingredient in many sauces and other dishes. The "FISH" allergen label can be found on menu signage for any dishes containing fish.
  • Shellfish: Examples of shellfish you might find served include shrimp, crab, lobster, octopus, mussels, and clams. Allergies to shellfish may include both crustacean and mollusk shellfish. Regardless, the presence of any type of shellfish in our dishes warrants the "SHELLFISH" allergen flag on our menu signage.
  • Tree Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios are examples of tree nuts you might find on our menus. Tree nuts are often an ingredient in some baked goods, baklava, macarons, milk alternatives, vegan protein alternatives, salad dressings, cereals, granolas, and frozen desserts. The "TREE NUTS" allergen label is assigned to menu signage for any foods containing one or more types of tree nuts.
  • Peanuts: Our "PEANUTS" allergen label indicates the presence of peanuts, cold-pressed/extruded/expelled peanut oil, and lupine. Peanuts are sometimes found in baked goods, nut butters, cereals, granolas, sauces, and vegan protein alternatives.
  • Wheat: There are many different types of wheat (including bulgur, durum, farina, einkorn, farro, freekeh, kamut, semolina, spelt, and triticale) as well as common sources of wheat (including pasta, flours, breads, wheat berries, baked goods couscous, crackers, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, batter-fried foods) that might be found on our menus. Additionally, wheat is sometimes found in starches, processed meats, vegan meat alternatives, and some sauces and dressings. Wheat, barley, and rye are also sources of gluten, a protein found in these foods that is an ingredient of concern for individuals with Celiac Disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance. Find the "WHEAT/GLUTEN" allergen label on menu signage for any foods containing wheat or gluten.
  • Soy: Our "SOY" allergen label indicates the presence of soy, cold-pressed/extruded/expelled soybean oil, soya, soy flours, and soy protein. Soy is also found in many vegan protein alternatives (including tofu, tempeh, and other processed food products), edamame, miso, Shoyu, soy sauce, tamari, other sauces, and some types of textured vegetable protein. Of note is that highly-refined soybean oil and soy lecithin are not sources of the soy allergen, however are still considered ingredients of concern in our community and thus warrant their own unique allergen labels (see Ingredients of Concern below for more information).
  • Sesame: Sesame has many names (including benne, gingelly, sesamol, sim sim, and til), as well as sources (gomasio, halvah, flour, oil, salt, seeds, and tahini). Any foods containing sesame warrant the "SESAME" allergen label on menu signage.

It's important to note that individual reactions to allergens can vary, and some individuals may be allergic to additional substances not included in this list. If you suspect an allergy, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance. Learn more about the top major food allergens on the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) webpage.

Ingredients of Concern

UC Davis Dining Services has identified additional ingredients commonly avoided by many individuals in our community for various reasons, collectively referred to as "ingredients of concern." Although they are not major allergens, labels similar to our allergen labels have been created to communicate the presence of ingredients of concern on our menu signage:

  • Gluten: We label foods containing gluten (including wheat, barley, and rye) using the "WHEAT/GLUTEN" label to help individuals with Celiac Disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance identify sources of gluten.
  • Peanut Oil: The "PEANUT OIL" label is assigned to foods containing refined peanut oil. While refined peanut oil is generally safe for most individuals with peanut allergies, individual sensitivities may vary, and those with peanut allergies may opt to also avoid peanut oil.
  • Soybean Oil: The "SOYBEAN OIL" label is assigned to foods containing refined soybean oil. Soybean oil is extracted from soybeans and is typically safe for individuals with soy allergies. However, individual sensitivities may vary, and many with soy allergy may also avoid soybean oil.
  • Soy lecithin: The "SOY LECITHIN" label is assigned to foods containing soy lecithin. Soy lecithin is a food additive made from soy and generally well-tolerated by most individuals with soy allergies. However, individual sensitivities can still occur, and many with soy allergy may also avoid soy lecithin.
  • Shared Fryers: Due to the use of shared frying oil, deep fryers introduce a potential risk for cross-contact with food allergens. For this reason, we assign the "FRYER" label to any meals with one or more ingredients that are prepared in a shared deep fryer.
  • Coconut: Despite containing "nut" in its name, coconut is botanically classified as a drupe, not a true nut. Most individuals with tree nut allergies can tolerate coconut, but we label foods containing coconut and its derivatives with the "TREE NUTS (COCONUT)" label to distinguish it from tree nuts while maintaining consistency with current FDA laws.
  • Alcohol and Vinegar: The "ALCOHOL" and "VINEGAR" labels are used to help support individuals with certain religious dietary obligations. Learn more about these labels on our Halal and Kosher Dining Options webpage.

Precautionary Advisory Labels

Precautionary advisory labels (PALs) are statements that manufacturers may include on food labels to indicate potential exposure to allergens, even if those allergens are not explicit ingredients. Examples of PALs include statements like "May contain," "Processed in a facility that also processes," or "Processed on the same equipment as."

While PALs are not regulated by the FDA and are optional for manufacturers, we take them seriously. We communicate any PALs disclosed by the manufacturer in the ingredients list on our online menu. However, we do not label for allergens indicated in the PALs themselves.

We encourage dining patrons to refer to our online menus for information or to speak to a manager for a comprehensive list of ingredients if they have any concerns about potential allergens. Additionally, student housing residents with food allergies or other dietary restrictions are encouraged to apply for our Residential Dining Dietary Support Program to ensure more personalized dining accommodations.

The Allergy-Friendly Designation

At UC Davis Dining Services, "Allergy-Friendly" is the term used to describe dishes made without top major allergens, coconut, soybean oil, soy lecithin, peanut oil, or prepared in a shared fryer, and additionally do not contain ingredients with a manufacturer's Precautionary Advisory Label. Please be advised that our dining facilities are not certified allergy-free or certified gluten-free facilities, as other dishes served may contain major allergens. Our team is trained in allergen safety, and makes every effort to identify ingredients that cause allergic reactions, ensure accurate labeling, and mitigate the risk for cross-contact. Additionally, manufacturers of commercial foods may change their formulation or substitute an ingredient with minimal notice. Please ensure you carefully read the menu signage posted during your visit. If you have concerns about allergens, please communicate your needs with a dining manager. Residents may also consider applying to our Residential Dining Dietary Support Program.

Allergy-Friendly Meals at the Bistro

The Bistro is a dining platform located in Segundo, Tercero, and Cuarto Dining Commons that is dedicated to serving spontaneous allergy-friendly lunches and dinners that cater to the diverse dietary needs of our dining patrons without the need for advanced planning or special requests. Bistro meals are made without top major allergens (wheat, dairy, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, or sesame), select ingredients of concern (including gluten, soybean oil, peanut oil, soy lecithin, and coconut), and are not prepared in shared fryer oil. Our rotating menu of allergy-friendly lunches and dinners at the Bistro can be found on the online menus.

Tips to Safely Enjoy Residential Dining Services

Patrons of our Residential Dining areas (Segundo DC, Tercero DC, Cuarto DC, and Latitude Restaurant) have access to the following resources to help them navigate their meal options while dining with us:

Check out the Online Menu

Daily menus are published on our online menu, which contains comprehensive information on nutrition facts, ingredients, allergens, and dietary preferences (Vegan, Vegetarian, and Halal). The Nutrition Team and Residential leadership teams collaborate to maintain accuracy and transparency of our menu information.

Read Menu Signage

Inside each residential dining area, LCD screens and individual menu placards identify allergens and dietary preferences at the point of service.

Eat at the Bistro Platform

Allergy-Friendly options inside Segundo, Tercero and Cuarto DC are readily available for lunch and dinner at the Bistro, our allergy-friendly platform featuring a variety of tasty dishes made without any of the top major allergens, (wheat/gluten, soy, dairy, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame) as well as coconut, soybean oil, soy lecithin, peanut oil, or fried items prepared in a shared fryer. Review the online menu for daily Bistro selections.

Ask for a portion from the back!

Dining patrons with dietary restrictions may express concern about the cross-contact risk posed by shared serving utensils in our self-service areas. Individuals may always feel free to ask a staff member or cook at any platform for a portion of food from a new batch or from the back kitchen.

Exercise Caution at the Pacific Fusions Platform

The stir fry-style dishes prepared at our Pacific Fusions platform are cooked on a shared surface, and given their customizable nature may introduce a variety of ingredients that could contain top major allergens. It is highly advised that students with food allergies exercise caution or altogether avoid menu items served from the Pacific Fusions platform.

Apply for our Residential Dining Dietary Support Program

Student Housing residents (in Segundo, Tercero, or Cuarto areas) with concerns about cross-contact and/or dietary restrictions that are more difficult to self-manage are highly encouraged to apply for our Dietary Support Program!

What to Do in an Emergency

If you experience an emergency allergic reaction in a DC, call 911 or notify a staff member right away, and they will contact emergency services for you.

While our staff takes every precaution to prevent cross-contact and ensure accurate food labeling, it's best to be prepared for any situation that may come your way. Knowing what to do in an emergency situation will ensure your safety. Please note that we do not carry epinephrine in our operations. It is highly recommended that students with epinephrine or other allergy medication keep this medication on them at all times, regardless of where they dine, and ensure that their medication has not expired. Our Dining staff may help a student access their emergency medication (i.e. from a personal bag or backpack), but are not permitted to administer said medication. In the event of an emergency, our staff will call 911.

How to Report an Incident

To report any adverse reactions to food consumed in our DC's, please contact our Dining Services Safety Specialist via email at Provide your name, phone number, a convenient time to reach you via phone call, and any details about the incident you wish to disclose. The Safety Specialist will follow up with you via phone call to gather and verify further details about the incident. An investigation will then be initiated in the operation to ensure corrective actions are taken to protect the safety of our patrons.