Natasha’s Law was put into place on the 1st October 2021, and it requires food businesses to provide full ingredient lists and allergen labelling on foods that are prepacked for direct sale on premises.
PPDS (prepacked for direct sale) includes foods that you select, that is kept behind a counter or food sold at temporary outlets.
The PPDS food has to clearly display the full ingredients lists with the allergenic ingredients emphasised and clear to see, either in bold, italics or a different colour to the rest of the packaging.
- Although 39% of people in the UK have dietary requirements, 88% of people will personally feel the benefits of Natasha’s Law or know someone who will.
- Anyone involved in the production or sale of pre-packaged food should be completely clear on labels and share that certainty with their customers, this is important because:
- It will make consumers feel at ease and improve their confidence and trust in purchasing products from that business
- It will attract this important customer base of people with food allergies who frequently eat out and gain these customers
- IT WILL KEEP EVERYONE WITH ALLERGIES SAFE!
Natasha was a 15-year-old girl, travelling with her dad and a friend when she purchased a baguette from Pret a Manger and collapsed in the airport. Natasha suffered from several allergies and made sure to double check the allergens contained in the baguette, however the sesame seeds, presumably baked into the dough, were not listed, or labelled on the food item. Unfortunately, Natasha then had an anaphylactic reaction and passed away in the airport on the 17th of July 2016. Natasha’s family then fought for a new legislation to be passed, now known as Natasha’s Law, which is in place today and means food businesses must display the ingredients within the product and if the 14 most common allergens are also in it, they will also need to be highlighted onto the item.
Fourteen most common allergens
The following ingredients must be clearly labelled on food products if they are found in the item:
- Lupin Celery
- Eggs Cereals (that contain gluten)
- Fish Nuts
- Peanut Soya/ soybeans
- Sesame seeds Molluscs
- Milk Crustaceans
- Mustard Sulphur dioxide
All of which are included on bold allergen labels on this website and on separate food larger foods labels for kitchens to know what allergens are within specific food items.
An allergic reaction can be produced by a tiny amount of an ingredient that one is sensitive to, for example 1tsp of milk powder or 1-2 sesame seeds, the slightest amount can cause an allergic reaction. The symptoms it can cause are vomiting, diarrhoea, wheezing, an anaphylaxis shock and in certain cases, death. This emphasises the necessity of Natasha’s Law and the importance of food labelling both in kitchens and on shelves, therefore aiding towards the safety of people who suffer drastically with these allergies.
Importance of Allergen Labelling:
- Making allergen labelling mandatory is necessary to safeguard people with food allergies or intolerances. By having allergen declarations on labels, it means those who suffer with these allergies/ intolerances know which items they need to avoid. This requirement is a good step in preventing deaths due to food allergies.
- On average every year 5,500 people attend hospital due to serious reactions to food. This number is rising each year by approximately 10%.
- This labelling is crucially important for food safety across the UK, approximately 2 million people suffer from a food allergy or intolerance, which then rises to 6 million when you consider those suffering from coeliac disease. This means that all food outlets need to be mindful of food labelling and abide by Natasha’s law.
- When purchasing a product, the labels are the first thing consumers will tend to see. Labels draw attention to the product but also offer a source of information for customers, such as the list of ingredients or pointing out allergens, preventing them from buying the wrong product. Therefore, the allergen labelling, and ingredients list needs to be as clear and stand out to the customer to make food safer to buy and reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction occurring.
- It is also important for food businesses to know that not everyone may be aware they have a food allergy to an ingredient and if perhaps they do suffer from an allergic reaction, the allergy warning will help both the customer and the hospital to identify the food that is the cause of this, to prevent it from happening again.
CGA research that was conducted showed that 87% of consumers with serious food allergies feel a lot more confident in trusting the content of pre-packaged food now that Natasha’s Law is in place à This shows how important it is for businesses to make their labels as clear as possible for the safety and happiness of their customers.
A CGA survey showed that 39% of UK customers have some form of dietary requirements and over 15% of these (1 in 7 customers) which have serious food allergies feel they cannot trust the food items when they go out. 2/3 of this group are also likely to purchase food out much more frequently than before Natasha’s Law was put into place.
Importance of Allergen labelling in kitchens:
- Having allergen labels in kitchens ensures that the business knows what allergen the specific food item contains and in turn can make it clear and noticeable on the product that is being sold. Allergen labels also show the date the product has been frozen, defrosted and with this can work out the use by date.
- In order to minimise the risk of allergy cross contamination à A food business should have an allergen notification system, including the suppliers with the aim to maintain well labelled segregated ingredient storage to aid towards reducing this risk in the kitchens. This will then also support effective management of allergic ingredients.
- A food businesses operator must also oversee and manage food allergens effectively in the food preparation phase. They must make sure that staff receive training on allergens and have a brief understanding of what it entails.