What is Natasha’s Law?
From the 1st October 2021, all food businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be required to provide full ingredient lists and allergen information for pre-packaged foods sold on-site.
The need for more comprehensive allergen listings was raised following the tragic death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a fatal reaction to a pre-packaged sandwich that did not display its full list of ingredients.
Following this awful event, Natasha’s parents (backed by a wave of public support) lobbied the government to introduce clear allergen protocols and protect other food allergen suffers in the future.
Please click 'Read More' for our Natasha's Law compliance guide...
The result of this important campaigning is Natasha’s Law. These new guidelines, which have been officially approved by the government, require food that is packaged on the same site as it is sold to label the name of the product, as well as providing a full ingredients list with allergens highlighted or emphasised (for example, in bold).
There are 14 identified allergens that kitchens need to be wary of. They are as follows:
Examples of Pre-Packaged Foods:
- Sandwiches and baked goods that are packaged on-site for a customer to purchase
- Products that are prepared and packaged on-site such as pasta pots, salads & pizzas
- Butchers' items that are prepared and packaged such as sausages or burgers
- Fast food that is packaged before ordering (such as wrapped burgers or hot dogs kept under a heating lamp)
- Free samples of foods packaged on-site (such as cookies and cakes)
- Foods packaged on-site and sold elsewhere (like a market stall or mobile street food stand)
Still unsure if you're food product needs full labelling? Check out the Allergen and ingredients food labelling decision tool at the Food Standards Agency website.
How to Comply with Natasha’s Law
The legal requirements to comply with Natasha’s Law are as follows. Pre-packaged food should be clearly labelled with:
- The name of the food
- A full ingredients list with any of the 14 allergens emphasised / highlighted
We offer a number of products that can help your business adhere to Natasha’s Law. For sites that prepare a lot of food on-site, it is probably worth considering an automatic label printer.
An automatic label printer allows for ingredient lists to be created and modified to clearly display allergens. Then, using a machine like the Date Code Genie, these labels can be printed quickly en masse. This eliminates the need for employees to manually write up ingredient lists — which for a high traffic site can be very time consuming.
Not only is an automatic label printer quick and efficient, but it also allows ingredient lists to be saved and edited should you say, choose to change up a sandwich filling or a pasta sauce recipe.
For smaller sites operators may want to utilise hand-written labels, though these will be more labour intensive and may be more prone to inaccuracy.
Regardless of what application method you use, it is a good idea to augment your ingredients label with a dedicated allergen sticker or label to reinforce your message and reflect your commitment to correct allergen compliance.
Remember, food that isn’t in packaging does not legally require labelling. However, to ensure your establishment is protecting anyone who suffers from a food allergy it is advisable to make use of allergen signs, stickers and food equipment. To assist you with this, please take a look at our full guide to allergen compliance here.
Advice from an Expert
“Natasha’s Law is now here and it is vital that food businesses are fully prepared for the change in Law. Customers with food allergies or intolerances must have accurate information on food they buy to make sure that it is safe for them to eat. Allergies are on the increase and it’s important to remember that many customers suffer with more than one allergy. Increasingly customers have reactions to allergens outside the ‘Top 14’ so it's always good to ask and pre-prepare.
Stephenson’s have always supported a proactive approach to good allergen management. Their team can advise you with the best options available to suit your business. Technology will help enormously, and it is wise to make sure ayour recipe data can be easily printed onto a suitable label solution. Finally, I would always encourage regular training — your team must understand how to manage allergens in a busy kitchen and although labels will help enormously, the team need to know the rigorous allergen procedures required before they add a label to a product”. - Jacqui McPeake
If you'd like to contact Jacqui regarding allergen training for your staff, her website is available here.