31 May Has Natasha’s Law made pre-packaged foods safer?
Natasha’s Law is legislation here in the United Kingdom aimed at improving food safety and protecting consumers with food allergies. The law is named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a teenager who died from anaphylactic shock after eating a sandwich she bought in Pret A Manger. The sandwich contained sesame seeds, to which she was severely allergic, but were not listed on the food label. Her death occurred in 2016, and the new law came into effect on October 1st, 2021.
Here we’ll explain what Natasha’s Law is, what it means for businesses, and how it benefits consumers.
What is Natasha’s Law?
Natasha’s Law requires all food businesses to include full ingredient labelling on pre-packaged food. This means that any food that is pre-packaged and ready for sale, whether it is sold in a shop, restaurant, café or online, must display a full list of ingredients, including allergens. The law applies to all businesses, regardless of their size or the type of food they sell. It covers food that is pre-packaged on-site, as well as food that is pre-packaged off-site and sold by the business. The law also applies to food that is pre-packaged and sold in vending machines.
What has this meant for businesses?
For businesses, Natasha’s Law meant that they had to change the way they label their food. Previously, businesses only had to label allergens if they were an ingredient in the food. Now, they must include a full list of ingredients, even if the allergen is present in a small or trace amount, or if it is used as a processing aid. Businesses also have to display the name of the food and the business that produced it, as well as the date it was packed and any storage instructions.
Businesses also need to ensure that the information they provide is accurate and up to date. If they change the recipe of a product or the supplier of an ingredient, they will need to update the label accordingly. Failure to comply with the new law could result in fines or legal action, or worse still, the potential illness or even death of another innocent person.
Food labels are now required to show the name of the food and the ingredients list, with any of the 14 allergens required to be declared by law, emphasised within it (i.e. in bold type).
What are the benefits of Natasha’s Law?
Natasha’s Law has many benefits for consumers, especially those with food allergies. The law makes it easier for people to identify foods that contain allergens, and it provides them with the information they need to make safe choices. The full list of ingredients also helps people to identify any other ingredients they may want to avoid, such as animal products or certain additives.
The law also gives people more confidence in the food they buy, as they are able to see exactly what is in it. This is particularly important for people with severe allergies, who may experience life-threatening reactions if they consume even small amounts of certain allergens.
Natasha’s Law also benefits businesses by providing them with clearer guidance on how to label their food. This helps to reduce confusion and ensures that all businesses are following the same standards. The law also helps to improve food safety by making it easier for businesses to identify potential allergen risks and take appropriate measures to prevent cross-contamination.
Does Natasha’s Law apply to sweets?
The law applies to all pre-packaged food items intended for sale to consumers, including sweets. Therefore, if a food business in the UK is selling pre-packaged sweets to consumers, they must provide full ingredient and allergen labelling in compliance with Natasha’s Law.
Does Natasha’s Law apply to school or charity cake sales?
If the food is not pre-packaged, then the allergen labelling requirements do not apply. In the case of school or charity cake sales, if the cakes are homemade and sold individually or as part of a bake sale, then the requirements of Natasha’s Law do not apply.
However, it is always a good practice to inform buyers of any allergens in the food being sold, even if not required by law, to ensure the safety of those with food allergies.
Natasha’s Law is an important step in continuing the improvement of food safety and protecting consumers with food allergies. By ordering all food businesses to include full ingredient labelling on pre-packaged food, the law makes it easier for people to identify allergens and make safe choices. The law will also provide businesses with clearer guidance on how to label their food, and it will help to improve food safety by reducing the risk of cross-contamination.
This law has been welcomed by allergy advocates, who hope that it will continue to reduce the number of allergic reactions caused by mislabelled or misidentified food. However, some food businesses expressed concerns at first about the cost and logistical challenges of implementing the new labelling requirements.
But overall, Natasha’s law represents an important step forward in food safety and allergen awareness. By requiring clear and accurate allergen labelling, the law helps to protect the health and safety of food allergy sufferers and improves their ability to make informed food choices.
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