UK RETAILERS TOLD TO PREPARE FOR UK FOOD INFORMATION AMENDMENT, AKA ‘NATASHA’S LAW’

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From 1 October 2021, the UK Food Information Amendment – also known as Natasha’s Law – will require businesses to provide full ingredient lists and allergen labelling on all food that is prepackaged for direct sale (PPDS). In other words, food that is packaged on the same premises where it is offered or sold to customers.  

The new legislation is the result of a campaign led by the parents of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who tragically died after suffering an allergic reaction to an undeclared ingredient in a pre-packed baguette.

The inquest into her death identified a major loophole in the food labelling rules, which meant that businesses making and selling fresh products pre-packed on their premises didn’t have to provide allergen information on the packaging.   

Under the UK Food Information Amendment, these types of PPDS items must clearly display the name of the food and a full ingredients list ordered by weight – 14 major allergens must also be emphasised on the label.  

Natasha’s Law will affect a number of businesses, including cafes, fast food and takeaway outlets, and market stalls. Food safety specialist, Bureau Veritas, has created a guide and checklist to support businesses to put in place clear and robust plans, to ensure they meet the new standard.

Bureau Veritas’ ‘Natasha’s Law – A Guide to Compliance’ was created in response to reports that food business owners were unprepared for the new food safety legislation due to come into effect imminently.

George Macfie, food technical manager at Bureau Veritas, said: “Natasha’s Law represents one of the biggest ever changes to food safety and labelling regulations, bringing in a potentially life-saving requirement for allergens to be highlighted on food packaging which is pre-packed for direct sale. It brings greater transparency about what people are buying and eating, lays down new standards for food businesses and highlights the increasing prevalence of food allergies, which is thought to affect around two million people in the UK.”

Macfie added: “Officially adopted into law on 1 October, businesses who are not yet prepared for these changes must act now. They should look at what they need to do from a supply chain and operational perspective, but also assess whether employees have sufficient training in allergens and the new requirements for Natasha’s Law.

“We’ve been working with clients since the legislation was first confirmed, as part of our comprehensive food safety and compliance offering. Developed by our dedicated food team, our new guide sets out the new legislation and informs organisations of their obligations, with a useful checklist and daily spot check to support businesses in achieving compliance with Natasha’s Law.”   

You can read more about the changes to food labelling laws and the UK Food Information Amendment on the Food Standards Agency website

Sam Roberts, sector director at mpro5 – a digital management platform which helps food retailers with compliance – stated: “Following the inquest, the government announced an overhaul of the labelling laws to better protect the estimated two million people who suffer from food allergies. The move will affect a variety of businesses – from sandwich shops and cafes to school catering companies and major supermarket chains.  

“If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to establish good relationships with your suppliers. You’ll need them to provide detailed ingredient information and notify you promptly of any changes, as even the slightest tweak to an ingredient could have huge implications.”

Roberts continued: “Complying with every stipulation of Natasha’s Law will not be easy. For many, particularly smaller companies, vendors, and producers, it will introduce stringent and precise new regulations, and compliance will be heavily scrutinised. However, not only is it ultimately for a worthy cause, but with the right tools, processes, and training, complying with these new demands can be made infinitely easier.

“This is where technological solutions can be a particularly useful asset, saving time, increasing productivity, and decreasing risk – for the company and the customers. Management software such as mpro5 can help create, regulate, and monitor the processes each staff member goes through to make sure old and new regulations are being followed to the letter. At the end of the day, anything the food industry can do to help consumers make safer food choices and prevent future tragedies should be openly embraced, and technological tools just make this a little easier.”

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