Almost five years after the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, Natasha’s Law is coming into force this October.
This means big changes for the food industry in terms of the transparency of product ingredients on all labels and packaging.
Are you ready for these changes? To help, we explain what exactly the new legislation means and how your business can get prepared.
What is Natasha’s Law?
From October 2021 all food manufacturing businesses in England must clearly label all foods packed and produced on their premises with a complete list of ingredients – emphasising any allergens.
This new legislation has been named Natasha’s Law.
Natasha’s Law is named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who at the age of 15 tragically passed away due to a severe allergic reaction.
Natasha had a serious sesame allergy and was not aware that sesame seeds had been baked into the bread of a sandwich she had bought. The packaging did not display any allergen information about sesame seeds so Natasha had thought the food was safe to eat.
Following this tragic accident, Natasha’s family campaigned for increased transparency of UK food labelling and as a result, Natasha’s Law is coming into force.
Why is it coming into force now?
However, it’s believed that out of a further 1500 asthma-related deaths, a significant percentage could have been triggered by food allergies.
Not only will Natasha’s Law prevent severe reactions and deaths that can be avoided, but it will also reassure and protect the 2 million people living with food allergies across the UK.
What does this mean for the food industry?
Once Natasha’s Law comes into play, all food manufacturers will be required by law to explicitly show every ingredient present in any food produced and packaged onsite.
The presence of the following allergens must be specifically highlighted on all ingredients labels:
Cereals containing gluten (oats and barley)
Crustaceans (crabs, lobster, prawns)
Molluscs (oysters and mussels)
Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (for concentrations above ten parts per million)
Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamias, and pistachios)
Is the industry ready?
The new legislation which comes into play in October 2021, will apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while similar rules will also begin in Scotland later in the year.
The rules mean that businesses of all sizes will legally have to implement some sort of food labelling system.
Although national chains can afford the luxury of electronic labelling systems, smaller companies may have to create handwritten ingredient lists that indicate any allergens as well as listing all ingredients for each product.
This will no doubt be time-consuming and perhaps make for less attractive packaging. Small businesses handwriting their labels will have to establish a well-organised and systematic process to ensure that all the legal requirements are met.
Failure to comply with the new regulations will attract substantial financial penalties and such a breach may carry a criminal offence.
How can your food business get ready?
Full traceability in your supply chain
Ensure you can trace the supply chain and source of all the ingredients that go into your products and clearly inform your distributors of them, so they can correctly inform customers.
Training your staff is essential and you should encourage further training to all your staff about the consequences unsatisfactory labelling can have on your business and the lives of customers.
You should consider using technology to protect and communicate any allergens present in food. Large corporations should invest in an electronic labelling system, however this may be unaffordable for smaller companies. Another example of a useful piece of technology is Ubamarket – this scan-as-you-go app scans a product and reads the small print on labels to inform customers of any allergens.
Pubs and restaurants
Although not directly affected by Natasha’s Law, it is also recommended that all pubs and restaurants provide allergen information for their customers. This information can either be printed within your restaurant menu or communicated verbally by staff.
Follow a plan
Natasha’s Law has also released a business roadmap which includes a list of all tasks and activities that you need to complete in order to prepare for the change.
We hope this blog has given you a better understanding of what Natasha’s Law is and what your food business needs to consider between now and October 2021.
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