Vendors have two years to get labelling correct for incoming Natasha’s Law
Shops and cafés have a two-year window to comply with new laws on ingredient labelling for packaged foods, which are being introduced following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.
Current legislation dictates that food prepared on the premises is not required to carry allergen information in writing, but staff must provide details in person if asked.
Now under “Natasha’s Law” to be implemented in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in summer 2021, food businesses will be required to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged foods such as salads and sandwiches without any exemptions.
Fifteen-year-old Ednan-Laperouse suffered a fatal allergic reaction after eating sesame in an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette bought at a branch of Pret A Manger at Heathrow Airport on 17th July 2016.
During an inquest into her death, the coroner said the victim had been “reassured” the product was safe for her by the fact there was no specific allergen information on the packaging.
The Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) believes varying rules or implementation timescales for different sizes of business would create confusion and would be difficult to enforce, FFD understands.
FFD’s conversations with speciality food businesses show the artisan sector is supportive of changes which Michael Gove, environment secretary, said would make food labels clear and consistent and give the country’s two million food allergy sufferers confidence.
Heather Hancock, chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), said the impact of food allergy and intolerance on quality of life could be as great as, or even greater than, any other, foodborne diseases.
“While it is impossible to eliminate the risks entirely, we believe the secretary of state’s announcement of this change in the rules will mean better protection for allergic consumers.”
Many food businesses have already taken steps to improve labelling, the FSA said, but it urged others, who had not, to take steps now.
Carla Jones, chief executive of Allergy UK, said the food industry needed to do more than the bare minimum when it came to catering for those with allergens.
“This move towards full ingredient labelling for pre-packed direct sale food will improve the lives of the allergic customer.
DEFRA said the new legislation would be introduced to Parliament by the end of summer.
This story appeared in the August issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.
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