The change in the labelling law comes after a Food Standards Agency consultation following the tragic death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to a sandwich sold without allergen information on the packaging
A new law to tighten food labelling rules will bring “better protection” for allergy sufferers, according Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Natasha’s Law, named after teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who tragically died following an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette, will require food businesses to include full ingredient labelling on pre-packed foods for direct sale.
Last May, the FSA recommended the implementation of this policy after conducting a consultation looking into four legislative options set out by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in January.
The non-ministerial government department spoke to 1625 individuals, 126 businesses, 83 public sector bodies and 29 non-governmental organisations.
Food Standards Agency Chairwoman Heather Hancock, said: “This is an important and welcome step towards our ambition for the UK to become the best place in the world for people who have food allergies and intolerances.
“I encourage businesses large and small to work with the FSA to get this right.
“Success will mean more choice and better protection for the millions of people – our families, friends, colleagues and neighbours across the UK – who have food allergies.”
Natasha’s parents, Nadim and Tanya Ednan Laperouse, said: “This is a hugely significant day for allergen sufferers in this country.
“The introduction of Natasha’s Law brings greater transparency about what people are buying and eating, lays down new standards for the food companies, and highlights the battle against the growing epidemic of allergies.
“Natasha was a spirited campaigner for justice and today she is smiling down on us knowing that this law well help ensure others do not suffer in the way our family does, and always will, following the loss of our beloved daughter and sister.
“We would like to thank ministers for their unflinching support in doing the right thing on behalf of all people with allergies.”
What are the current food allergy labelling law that will be changed?
Natasha’s Law will come into force in October 2021, allowing businesses time to prepare.
The reforms will require foods prepared and packed in the same premises as they are sold — such as a sandwich made by staff earlier in the day, which is then packed and placed on a shelf ready for sale — to display a full list of its ingredients.
Currently, businesses providing these services must provide allergen information in writing by either issuing full allergen information on a menu or chalkboard, or in an information pack or a clearly visible written notice explaining how customers can obtain this information.
Staff should also be provided with allergen training, with the government “highly recommending” employees are able to guarantee allergen-free meals and know the risks of cross contamination.
Defra parliamentary under-secretary and food minister Zac Goldsmith said: “This is a significant moment for the millions of allergy sufferers in England and a fitting tribute to Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse’s tireless campaigning.
“The introduction of this law will make it easier for allergy sufferers to make clear, safe choices when buying food.”
New allergy labelling law will be ‘challenging’ to implement for smaller businesses, says trade association
One concern raised by some is how much it could cost for some smaller businesses implement the new laws.
UKHospitality policy director Jim Cathcart told NSPackaging the organisation believes the best way to inform customers is through improved staff training and simple messaging.
He said: “UKHospitality has long-maintained that full ingredient labelling is not the most effective way of optimising public awareness of allergens.
“It will be challenging for businesses, especially small ones, to implement. Rather, we believe that the best way of informing customers is through conversation, simple messaging and improved staff training.
“Nevertheless, the law is enacted and we will, of course, continue to work closely with the FSA to ensure the new legislation is proportionate, workable and duly implemented by all types of businesses.”