It is estimated that almost 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from an allergy and that 10 deaths a year are caused by people not knowing what ingredients are in the food they are eating. In the wake of the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from an allergic reaction and her parents subsequent lobbying, new legislation is being introduced to protect allergy sufferers and give them confidence when buying pre-packaged food.
The UK Food Information Amendment, also known as Natasha’s Law, comes into effect from October 2021 and will require food businesses to provide full ingredient lists and allergen labelling on all foods pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) on the premises (including those given-away rather than sold).
According to the new rules, PPDS (Prepacked for Direct Sale) food will have to clearly display the following information on the packaging:
- Name of the food.
- Full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised (for example in bold, italics or a different colour).
These changes will apply to businesses in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Similar changes are expected to be introduced in Scotland by Food Standards Scotland.
So, what does this mean for the industry? The legislation will bring numerous challenges to the foodservice industry, from food manufacturing compliance right through the supply chain to consumer sale.
Although there is only 4 months to go before this legislation comes into force, there is still time to prepare and ensure your business is fully compliant.
A recent Arena event covered this topic, with insights and learnings from a highly experienced panel. Here are some of my key take-outs to help you prepare:
- Consider streamlining your products, menu and/or suppliers to avoid duplication across ingredients and help control risk of errors. Could you consolidate your suppliers more? Is your menu of PPDS fully traceable?
- Work with your suppliers closely and ensure the required certification and training has been met for the ingredients/products they supply you with. They have a legal obligation to supply the information, enabling you to do the same.
- Educate your staff on what falls within PPDS. This includes food packed on premises in anticipation of an order e.g., fast food/wrapped chicken under hot lamp ready for sale. It also includes pre-packed staff/school meals, even if they are free of charge.
- Create and manage a centralised ingredients database, to assist in the control of menu items, labelling and potential substitutions/changes to recipes later down the line. Alternatively, identify a suitable partner to help you do this such as Nutritics.
- Ensure relevant allergen awareness training is given to all team members in the process, from data input through to managers, and from BOH staff printing labels through to counter staff/consumer sales.
Ultimately, businesses need to work together and take responsibility for their part in the journey. Caterers and retailers need to be able to trust the information received from wholesalers and manufacturers, and consumers needs to be able to trust the information received from retailers and caterers. The bigger picture here is transparency for consumers, to allow them to enjoy food when eating out safely. And let’s face it, after 2020 (and some of 2021), we all want to head out and enjoy hospitality again, with safety top of mind.
For more information on the details around Natashas law, visit natashas-law.com