From 1 October 2021, a new food labelling legislation comes into force for all food manufacturing businesses in England. This post will talk about what Natasha’s Law is and what it means for your business.
The UK Food Amendment, also known as Natasha’s Law, is a new piece of legislation that requires all food manufacturing businesses in England to clearly label all foods packed and produced on their premises with a full list of ingredients that emphasises any allergens in bold, italics or a different colour text.
It aims to bring greater transparency to food labelling and protect the estimated 1 in 4 people in the UK who are living with allergies.
Natasha’s Law comes into effect after a campaign by the family of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who passed away due to a severe allergic reaction in 2016.
Natasha had a sesame allergy and was unaware that sesame seeds had been baked into the bread of an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette that she bought from Pret-a-Manger. After eating the baguette at Heathrow Airport, Natasha collapsed on board a flight and died of anaphylaxis later that day.
Natasha had been reassured that the baguette was safe because it contained no allergen information.
If the full list of ingredients had been included on the packaging, this tragedy could have been avoided.
From its introduction in October 2021, Natasha’s Law will only apply to food manufacturing businesses in England. It won’t apply initially to businesses in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, though it’s likely that those countries will follow suit.
If you run a food business in England that sells pre-packaged food for direct sale (PPDS), all food labels must clearly list every ingredient included in the product. It’s also vital that allergen information is transparent.
If you run a cafe, pub or restaurant that sells food made to order, Natasha’s Law does not legally affect your business.
However, it’s recommended that all ingredients and allergen information is printed on menus. All staff should also be fully trained on all ingredients and allergens for each option on the menu to be able to provide accurate information to customers.
This will help to avoid tragic accidents like that of 18-year-old Owen Carey. Owen died from an allergic reaction after being reassured by a menu and staff member at burger chain Byron that the grilled chicken he ordered did not contain dairy. Unfortunately, the chicken had been marinated in milk. There was no indication of this on the menu, and the member of staff was unaware.
If you run a takeaway, meals are classed as distance selling, which means that you’re not legally obligated to follow Natasha’s Law regulations. As a distance seller, all ingredients and allergen information must be available at your premises, as well as in written form at the customer’s request. Again, it’s good practice to include transparent information on menus and ensure staff are trained to confidently and accurately provide details on ingredients and allergens to customers.
As we’ve already touched on, regardless of the type of business you run, making sure all staff have up-to-date allergen awareness training should be a priority.
We have two specially designed courses to help with this, both priced just £3.99:
Along with the relevant course, you should also ensure that staff are informed of any changes in legislation around labelling and kept up-to-date on all menu and ingredient changes.
Make sure that you know the source of all of the ingredients that go into manufacturing your products.
If you’re making and selling food to other businesses, follow the labelling rules to the letter so that your distributors are clear on ingredients and allergens and can correctly inform customers.
If you’re purchasing products or ingredients from suppliers, make sure that all labelling is present and correct and have a clear line of communication in place so that you can be notified of changes immediately.
Technology isn’t suitable for every business, but where possible linking your label printer to an online food and ingredients database can help ensure labels are correct and up-to-date, reducing the risk of human error.
Once you have trained staff and mapped the supply chain, carry out stress tests ahead of Natasha’s Law coming into effect to ensure distributor/supplier information is accurate, and staff are trained and confident in allergens and the processes around labelling. Carry on running trials, reviewing and refining ahead of time so that everything is seamless come 1 October.
Natasha’s Law is legislation that can prevent illness and saves lives. By training your staff and tailoring your labelling process, your business will play a key role in making the food industry safer for everyone.