Natasha’s Law Now In Force
The UK Food Information Amendment requires food retailers to ensure that all pre-packaged foods are labelled with a full list of ingredients. This includes foods prepared by the retailers themselves as well as those bought in from elsewhere. As Natasha’s Law came into effect on 1st October 2021, we wanted to discuss what this means for our customers.
What is Natasha’s Law?
On July 17th 2016, 15-year old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died after experiencing a severe allergic reaction to sesame seeds. The seeds were in a baguette labelled as being artichoke, olive and tapenade. There was no mention of the sesame seeds even though they have long been a known allergen.
Her tragic death made headline news and shocked the nation. It led to her family and their supporters campaigning for a change to the law to ensure that nobody would ever die in that way again. This is why the UK Food Information Amendment is generally known as “Natasha’s law”.
With hindsight, Natasha’s law was long overdue. Allergies are a growing problem in the UK (and the world in general). It’s unclear whether the growth in the number of allergy sufferers is due to more people having/developing allergies or greater recognition (and hence better diagnosis) of them. It could quite feasibly be a combination of both.
What is known, however, is that allergies can, quite literally, be fatal. It’s therefore, literally, vital that anyone who suffers from them has all the information they need, provided to them clearly. This has now been recognised in Natasha’s law.
The basics of the legislation
Since October 2021 all food vendors have been required to provide a full list of ingredients on all pre-packed food sold on the premises. There are three key points to infer from this. Firstly, all food vendors must now ensure that any pre-packaged items they buy from third parties are appropriately labelled.
Secondly, they must ensure that they are capable of correctly labelling all pre-packaged food items they prepare themselves. Thirdly, that they do not have to label food items made to order but they must still highlight allergy information in another suitable way. For example, they could include information on signs in the serving area and/or have servers mention it.
It’s also important to note that food vendors do not have to label pre-packaged food if they are using distance-selling channels. For example, if you bought pre-packaged food as part of a takeaway or hamper, it would not need to be fully labelled. The food vendor would, however, still need to provide the allergy information.
Respecting the letter and spirit of Natasha’s law
Laws are minimum standards, not targets. They often rely on people, at least key people, recognising their importance and following them in spirit rather than just in letter. In the case of allergy laws, it’s just as important to avoid confusing people with “false positives” as it is to highlight when allergy-sufferers need to avoid products.
For example, it’s important to refrain from “playing safe” by indicating that products may contain known allergens unless that is actually the case. This simply restricts the choice of allergy-sufferers without a good reason. Here at R+R Hub, we are committed to carefully vetting all our suppliers for accurate labelling so allergy-sufferers can have as wide a choice as possible while staying safe.