Set to come into effect on October 1st, Natasha’s Law makes it a legal requirement for all hospitality businesses to display full ingredient and allergen labelling on all food pre-packaged for direct sale (PPDS). The legislation was passed after the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who had a fatal allergic reaction to a Pret A Manger sandwich that lacked proper allergen labelling. Although the law is a complex change for Birmingham’s hospitality industry, it’s a positive step forward for consumer safety.
Changes to food labels
Food PPDS is food that’s been prepared, packaged, and stored on the same premises it’s sold. Under Natasha’s law, food PPDS needs to come with the full ingredients list displayed on the label with any of the 14 major allergens highlighted. These major allergens include: milk, cereals containing gluten, nuts, sesame seeds, peanuts, soya, celery, eggs, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, lupin, mustard, and sulphur dioxide (or sulphites). On the label, allergens should be emphasized with either underlining, bold lettering, capital letters, or contrasting colours. So, now, with correct labeling, responsibility doesn’t just fall on staff to check allergens, which can be difficult to manage in busy environments.
Staff allergen awareness training
Staff across all Birmingham’s hospitality venues will also be provided with up-to-date allergen awareness training in anticipation of the new law (the Food Standards Agency provides food allergy and intolerance training to businesses free of charge). To successfully comply with the legislation, staff should be informed and knowledgeable enough to let customers know the up-to-date ingredients lists of food PPDS. If an ingredients list ever changes, the staff need to be immediately told, so they can provide customers with accurate, up-to-date information.
Getting clear on “free-from” claims
Free-from claims on food products (like peanut-free, gluten-free, or dairy-free) indicates the food is safe for people with allergies or intolerances to eat. If a Birmingham hospitality business is unable to ensure their kitchen is free of cross-contamination, they should refrain from including “free-from” claims on their products. At the same time, businesses should only highlight the risk of cross-contamination when this risk is real; cross contamination warnings should never be included to compensate for poor hygiene and safety practices.
Natasha’s law marks big changes for Birmingham’s hospitality industry. Once it comes into force in October, consumers can enjoy the city’s local cuisine with greater safety and peace of mind.