Coming into effect later in the year, Natasha’s Law is being introduced to protect allergy sufferers. This new legislation will impact businesses across the UK, who will be required to implement a food labelling system that comprises a full list of ingredients and clearly highlights allergens present in food.
Preparing for this new legislation is not without its challenges – there could be new labelling expenses as well as staff training. Here’s everything you need to know…
What is Natasha’s Law?
Named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who tragically suffered a fatal allergic reaction at just 15 years old, after eating a baguette from a Pret A Manger, Natasha’s Law will come into effect later this year to improve ingredient and allergen information for foods produced and packaged on the same site as they are sold.
Natasha had a severe sesame allergy and wasn’t aware that sesame seeds were present in the baguette she purchased as there was no requirement for allergen or ingredient information to be present on the packaging.
What is the Current Law on Allergen Labelling?
Currently, food prepared on the premises in which it is sold is not required to display allergen information on the label. This means allergy sufferers sometimes lack confidence buying food to eat whilst they are out.
When Does Natasha’s Law Come Into Effect?
Who Does it Apply To?
These changes will apply to businesses in England. Similar arrangements expected to follow in the devolved nations to provide a UK-wide approach to protecting consumers.
The new allergen-labelling law applies to all foods packed and prepared on the same site as they are sold. Example: sandwiches or salads made and then put into a display fridge for sale in the same premises.
How do I Comply with Natasha’s Law?
As of October 2021, any business based in England must clearly label all foods packed and produced on their premises with a complete list of ingredients – clearly emphasising any allergens.
What Should I Be Doing Now?
Ensure you collate ingredient and allergen information for all of your products into a clear and usable format. Consider how you are going to present the information and how it will be attached to the product. This could be done by labelling or by pre-printing packing with the relevant information.
Check foods are being made consistently in line with the specification or recipe. It is also important to ensure you have a procedure in place to highlight when suppliers provide substitutions that may have different ingredients or allergens as this can lead to inaccurate labelling on the final prepared food. Example: some brands of mayonnaise contain mustard and some don’t. A different brand of bread could contain additional ingredients such as sesame. It’s important that this is closely monitored when goods are delivered.
Evaluate what you are currently doing and see where things could go wrong. The key to good food safety management systems is a continuous review of your processes. This will help you to identify potential weaknesses and the process steps where things could go wrong, enabling you to make changes and implement better controls.
While no one knows your processes as well as you do, reaching out to an experienced, knowledgeable food safety consultant can be of significant help.
Training Staff in Your Food Business
As well as training staff to be aware of the 14 Allergens, they also need to be made aware of the importance of correctly labelling foods and the potential consequences of not doing so. Making sure staff understand the importance of following recipes and cross contamination controls is vital.
Food safety training can be done in many ways and doesn’t necessarily have to be via an external course (although there are many good ones online). Creating a document or presentation in-house, with the key points in an easy-to-read format can be just as effective. There is no substitute for regular refreshers and well-placed clear signage reminders.
Can Technology Make Life Easier?
Good tech should make life easier. To ensure consistency and accuracy with labelling, you may want to consider looking at a label printing and recipe management solutions such as Brother and Star Chef. Making sure your staff are doing the correct process checks is also vital and simple solutions like Hubl app can help you do this.
Here at Complete Food Safety, we specialise in helping businesses implement food safety procedures that ensure they meet the legal standard for food safety. Contact us here.