Understanding Natasha’s Law
In 2016, teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse tragically lost her life. She had an allergic reaction after eating a shop-bought baguette that wasn’t labelled to say that it contained sesame seeds, which she and her family knew she was allergic to.
Her death highlighted the need for more robust food labelling, particularly on ‘prepacked for direct sale’ (PPDS) items, and new regulations are coming into force in England on 1 October 2021: Natasha’s Law. The rest of the UK is expected to bring in similar rules.
Understanding Natasha’s Law will protect the estimated 2 million people diagnosed with food allergies in the UK, preventing severe reactions and deaths caused by a lack of clarity and insufficient labelling on food products.
What will change with the introduction of Natasha’s Law?
From 1 October 2021, the way food businesses provide allergen labelling information for Prepacked for Direct Sale (PPDS) will change. PPDS foods are products made and packed on the same premises from which they are sold.
Prepacked for direct sale food is packaged before the consumer selects or orders it.
Any food that is not in packaging when it is ordered, or is loose and is packaged after being ordered, is not included. Popular examples include:
Currently, these foods are not required to have product labels showing the full ingredients or the allergens contained. When Natasha’s Law comes in, ALL ingredients will need to be clearly listed.
Staff should also be able to address any customer enquiries about allergens in the product ingredients.
You’ll need detailed information on all your ingredients, including sauces and dressings, to make sure customers can be aware of any allergens in the product.
How do I know if Natasha’s Law applies to my business?
The rules above will apply to ANY food business in England, regardless of its size. Whether you’re a national sandwich chain or a small independent business: if you sell PPDS products, the full ingredients will need to be on your packaging.
How will Natasha’s Law be enforced?
Under the regulations, the local food authority is the current enforcement body and the penalty for breach is a criminal offence attracting substantial financial penalties.
How can I make sure my PPDS products are correctly labelled to comply with Natasha’s Law?
It’s arguably easier for large companies to comply to Natasha’s Law. Their menus, recipes and ingredients tend to be standardised across branches, with items sourced from set suppliers. Bringing in sophisticated equipment and software for food labelling is also unlikely to have as much of an impact for bigger businesses.
If you’re a smaller business, now’s the time to be thinking about the logistics of the new labelling requirements and whether you need to invest in systems to help you.
It’s perfectly acceptable to have handwritten labels, as long as they are legible and contain all the required information. But that will be time consuming and has high potential for errors.
Solutions to make food labelling compliance easier
There are software and labelling systems available to make your food labelling processes more efficient, consistent, and importantly, more accurate.
With Allergen Checker, you can meet all your food labelling needs, from printed ingredient labels to menus, from less than £1 per day.
Allergen Checker was launched in 2014, by Mark Morgan-Huntley, a chef-cum-entrepreneur with more than 30 years’ experience in kitchen and restaurant management.
"Food labelling has never been as important as it is now," Mark explains. "I've seen first-hand how challenging it is to get the correct information to the customer.
“Nobody wants to make anybody ill by not providing them with the right details: the new regulations have really tightened up the process to stop people slipping through the net.
“And turning a blind eye isn't an option - the consequences for the customer, and your business, are too great. So understanding and implementing this law change has to be a priority”