A hot topic of discussion over the past several months is the introduction and implementation of Natasha’s Law.
As of October 2021, any business based in England must clearly label all food packed and produced on their premises with a complete list of ingredients.
The goal of this law is to protect those who suffer from food allergies that lead to severe reactions and in some cases, death.
The genesis of this law is tragic, to say the least. In July of 2016, a fifteen-year-old girl named Natasha Ednan-Laperouse suffered a fatal allergic reaction after eating an olive, artichoke and tapenade baguette purchased at Pret-a-Manger in Heathrow Airport. The product contained sesame seeds, which Natasha had an allergy to, and she was not aware that this ingredient had been pre-baked into the bread that she was eating.
Following the consumption of the food product, Natasha died of anaphylaxis. This all ensued because the food product did not contain appropriate allergen information, ultimately causing her untimely death. The incident prompted Natasha’s family to campaign for increased legislation around appropriately labeling food products to include all ingredients and potential allergens.
How is your Business Affected?
The new labelling laws as a result of Natasha’s Law will undoubtedly impact businesses in England and surrounding territories. As a food business owner, this law and the reasoning behind it should be top-of-mind not only for you, but your employees as well. This is especially true from a legal standpoint, as more restaurants and staff will be held accountable if a customer suffers an allergic reaction as a result of negligence or not abiding by this law. Here’s how it might impact specific businesses / business models:
Cafes and Delis: Any cafe or deli selling pre-packaged for direct sale (PPDS) food must legally provide this information by October 2021.
Pubs: Although not directly affected by Natasha’s Law, it is recommended that all pubs and restaurants provide allergen information for their customers, whether indicated on the menu or verbally communicated by staff.
Takeaways: Takeaways are not currently affected by Natasha’s Law from a legal standpoint. However, it is still recommended they provide allergen information either verbally or in writing, similar to the standard for pubs.
How can you prepare for the changes?
It is extremely important that businesses prepare for the changes that will take place as a result of Natasha’s Law. If businesses are not currently labeling their packaged food products, they must be thorough in investigating what ingredients are included and create appropriate labels for them, before placing them on the shelves. Now, not only are they being held accountable from a customer safety standpoint, but a legal one as well.
Staff training will also be imperative as this new law takes shape. All employees must be sufficiently trained on what is in the food they are selling, and be able to truthfully communicate with employees. Businesses should implement a training program around this new law, and continue to have “refresher” sessions with employees while this new law is becoming the norm.
Expenses will undoubtedly rise for businesses who have to comply with this law. Performing a nutrition and ingredient analysis as well as labeling each individual food item will come at a cost, which could negatively impact small businesses for a while. However, it will be worth it in the end when more customer lives are saved as a result of attention to this matter. To prepare for these additional expenses, businesses should consider adjusting their current budgets to allot more funds.
The List of Allergens
Those who live with severe food allergies deserve to be fully informed about what they are consuming. It is life or death. Not only that, but they should be able to have a wide variety of food choices and not be limited. This is a more common condition than people realize. An article from CDP online reports that an estimated 2 million people in the UK are living with some form of diagnosed food allergy. This includes individuals with food intolerances.
Some more shocking statistics to consider:
- Over 600,000 (1 in 100) of these people have celiac disease.
- Annually, roughly ten people a year die from food-induced anaphylaxis.
- It’s believed that some of the 1,500 asthma deaths each year are triggered by food allergies.
- The majority of people who suffer near-fatal reactions or death had no idea that they were at risk. Additionally, those who are at risk find the unpredictability of living with food allergies daunting.
The fourteen allergens that are mandatory to be listed are as follows:
- Cereals that contain gluten
- Sulphur dioxide
- Tree nuts
The list is vast and varied, which is why it is imperative that all ingredients are listed on every packaged food product made available on shelves.
How MenuSano can Help
MenuSano nutritional software is an online nutrition calculator that provides an affordable, flexible, user-friendly solution that your business can use to calculate nutritional content of all of your current and future products. Not only that, but it was designed to be compliant to as to align with the standards set by Canada and USA industry legislators and is continuously updated to maintain its compliant status.
- Compliant with the new Natasha’s Law
- Our nutrition label templates are in UK format, including territories (i.e. Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland)
- With MenuSano you have access to UK, Canadian, and USDA databases
- Ability to add dietary statements to labels such as Gluten Free, Vegan, Nut free, and many more!
- Option to add your ingredients list to labels
MenuSano is a dynamic, user-friendly service that will help your business thrive while remaining compliant with evolving industry standards. We want to do our part in saving the lives of people suffering from severe food allergies and intolerances.
For more information on Natasha’s Law and her story, please visit: narf.org.uk/natashaslaw