Our blog this time comes from Sally Trice and she explores the Implications on the industry of Natasha’s Law.
Natasha’s Law – Implications for the Industry.
The UK Food Information Amendment known as “Natasha’s Law” will come into effect on October 1st this year. This will mean that a food business must provide full ingredient and allergen labelling on food that is pre-packaged for direct sale (PPDS). It will apply to small businesses, large chains and everything in between.
The amendment stems from the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who had a fatal allergic reaction to sesame flour in a baguette purchased from a Pret a Manger outlet at Heathrow Airport in 2016. Pret a Manger were doing nothing wrong as they were complying with the Food Information Regulations 2014 for non pre-packed (loose) foods and PPDS food was not a stand-alone category in the Regulations.
Currently, a food business is required to provide accurate allergy information both verbally and in a written format for all non-pre-packed foods. All pre-packed (manufactured) foods must be labelled with a full ingredients list which includes the highlighting of allergens present in the product.
It is thought that the lack of any warnings or clear allergen information on the packaging led to Natasha taking a risk which resulted in her death. At the inquest the coroner highlighted the fact that there had been several complaints received by Pret regarding the lack of allergen information on their products and specifically the sesame flour used in the baguette chosen by Natasha.
These earlier complaints (near misses) had not been acted upon by Pret, they had been side-lined, and there was no processes in place to capture them accurately. Had there been a process in place at the time then Natasha’s death may have been averted.
Natasha’s parents Nadim and Tanya successfully lobbied the government for a change to the law and these changes will take effect from the 1st October across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The legislation is intended to give allergy sufferers more confidence that when purchasing PPDS foods they will be safe for them to consume because all the ingredients contained within the product will be clearly displayed on the label.
Action on reactions
Fatalities following an allergic reaction to a restaurant meal or takeaway food are often front-page news. The number of hospital admittances in England with a primary diagnosis of anaphylaxis in 2020 reached over 5,500 and around 10 people die every year as a result of food allergies.
There have been more eating out related fatalities since Natasha and most of the victims have been in their teens. Food professionals and campaigners know that better labelling won’t, on its own, be enough to prevent deaths. Coroner’s reports following the death of Natasha and several other young adults have highlighted the need for better reporting and information sharing.
The FSA and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) are aware of the need for a national register to record food allergen-related fatalities and near misses. The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, Allergy Action, Allergy UK, Food Allergy Aware, and the
Anaphylaxis Campaign have all joined in the call to raise awareness of the importance of properly recording death by anaphylaxis.
Failure to record death from a severe allergic reaction is inhibiting the work of researchers, clinicians, policy makers and EHOs while contributing to family lives being destroyed. The FSA is currently exploring a new way for the public to report an allergy related incident and of notifying relevant local authorities when a customer reports an issue.
All businesses can play their part by introducing a register of “near misses” to log any allergy related incident that could have a major implication for the free-from customer. All staff need to have food allergy training and should be encouraged to report (in a NO blame culture environment) and record any potential incidents or issues that have been raised by customers.
Food Allergy Aware is running a series of bite-sized on-line workshops in August & September in collaboration with Jacqui McPeake. Caroline & Jacqui are working together as “Hospitality Allergen Support UK” to help raise awareness of the importance of near miss reporting and staff training and to answer any specific business-related questions in regard to Natasha’s law.
Please register your interest at https://foodallergyaware.co.uk/events/
To find our more about how we can help you please email Marketing@fatc.co.uk or call 07732637292 for a FREE 20 minute call to discuss your site.
Consultant/ Trainer – Food Allergy Aware