For the millions of people in the UK living with severe food allergies, the introduction of Natasha’s Law from October 2021 is a significant and necessary change that will help protect them and give them more confidence in the food they buy and consume. Meanwhile, for food businesses across the UK, the new regulation means they will need to provide clearer allergen labelling information for Pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) foods.
How will this change affect your business and what should you do to ensure compliance? This article covers the key points food businesses need to know about Natasha’s Law:
What is Natasha’s law?
Will your business be affected?
What are the allergens covered?
What you need to do to ensure compliance
What is Natasha’s Law?
Also known as the UK Food Information Amendment, Natasha’s Law will require all PPDS foods to be clearly labelled with the name of the food, as well as a complete list of ingredients, with all allergens emphasised.
Prepacked for direct sale or PPDS is food which is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold to consumers and is in this packaging before it is ordered or selected.
It can include food that consumers select themselves (e.g. from a display unit), as well as products kept behind a counter and some food sold at mobile or temporary outlets.”
(Source: Food Standards Agency)
The law has been introduced as part of regulations on allergens and ingredients following strong campaigning from the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who tragically died from an allergic reaction caused by eating a baguette that contained sesame – something she was highly allergic to. Correct food labelling could have prevented Natasha’s death, which is why her parents have tirelessly fought for change to help protect others with food allergies across the UK.
Will your business be affected?
Any business that sells PPDS foods (among other types of food sold) will be subject to Natasha’s Law.
According to the Food Standards Agency, this could include foods such as:
“Sandwiches and bakery products which are packed on site before a consumer selects or orders them”
“Fast food packed before it is ordered, such as a burger under a hot lamp where the food cannot be altered without opening the packaging”
“Products which are prepackaged on site ready for sale, such as pizzas, rotisserie chicken, salads and pasta pots”
“Burgers and sausages prepackaged by a butcher on the premises ready for sale to consumers”
(Find more examples from the Food Standards Agency)
Breaches of the law could be escalated and lead to your food business facing legal action and/or financial penalities, and you may suffer reputational damage as a result.
What allergens are covered?
There are 14 major food allergens that must be listed as per the law. These are:
Cereals containing gluten (e.g. barley, oats)
Crustaceans (e.g. prawns, crab)
Molluscs (e.g. mussels)
Sulphur dioxide or sulphites
Tree nuts (e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, cashews)
What do you need to do to ensure compliance?
1. Clearly outlining all mandatory information on outer packaging labels
The label needs to show:
The name of the food item
A full list of ingredients
All allergens emphasised
2. Presenting mandatory information in the right format
Information must be clear and legible, and not covered by folds or creases. Allergens must be emphasised in bold, italics or a different colour font.
3. Clear communication with suppliers
If you purchase certain products or ingredients from external suppliers, you should maintain clear communication with them about the exact ingredient composition of the food you buy from them. It is your supplier’s legal obligation to provide you with this information.
For example, a prepared sauce that contains certain allergens may cause a regulation breach under Natasha’s Law if it does not come with a full breakdown of all ingredients for you to communicate with your customers.
4. Training your staff
All staff should be informed of the impact that unsatisfactory labelling can have on your business and customers. They should also be aware of the steps you are taking – such as new software or procedures – to ensure compliance (e.g., where they can find allergen information if asked by customers).
5. Making the most of technology
Aside from package labelling, food businesses can go a step further to protect customers and increase confidence in what they are buying if your systems enable you to do that.
At Uniware, our clients can take advantage of various built-in allergen features to help their customers stay well-informed, whether they buy items at a till, at a self-service kiosk, or order online via Upay Order Ahead:
EPoS: Uniware’s PoS and self-service kiosks can display allergen information with a simple press of the Nutrion/Allergen button. The systems can also be configured to show a pop-up alert when a product with allergens is sold.
In the Upay app: within Upay Order Ahead, customers can also easily access allergen information right in the app, or via a link to the manufacturer's website.
To know more about how Uniware systems can help you stay on top of all applicable allergen regulations (regarding both Natasha’s Law and other regulations applicable to you), please contact your dedicated Account Manager, or email us at email@example.com.