As of 1st October 2021, a new law is going to be introduced dedicated to stricter regulations around food packaging. All food packaging labels will need to list the ingredients including the 14 major food allergens.
The plan was set in motion after the tragic death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a severe allergic reaction after eating a baguette from Pret A Manger that had no food allergy warning labels on the packaging.
Natasha had lived with severe allergies her entire life. She found that the previous government allergen labelling guidance had helped her confidence when eating out, but unfortunately this wasn’t a legal requirement.
It is estimated that there are over 2 million people in the UK living with food allergies (excluding intolerances and people who are undiagnosed), so the news of stricter allergen labelling is welcomed by many.
WHO DOES NATASHA’S LAW APPLY TO?
Natasha’s Law will apply to all businesses that supply foods that are prepacked for direct sale (PPDS).
Although there isn’t an exclusive definition for what constitutes as PPDS, the allergen labelling guidance gives the following criteria:
● Food that is presented to the consumer in packaging that is completely or partially enclosed in a way that makes it impossible to alter the food without opening or changing the packaging
● The food is packaged before the consumer orders it
● The food is packaged in the same place it is sold – including food packaged by a business on the same site where it is sold, or food sold from temporary or moveable premises (i.e. a food truck)
Whether food is considered PPDS must be assessed on a case by case basis. Natasha’s Law does not apply to food that is made to order or served in packaging that is open and able to be altered (such as cardboard trays).
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?
The new law requires that a list of ingredients must be printed and visible on the packaging of the food product, including allergy warning labels where appropriate. The food allergy labels must be durable enough to still be readable after handling and easy to spot. Considerations must be made, including:
● Good visibility (must not be placed under any folds or creases)
● Accessibility for those with visual impairments
If any of the ingredients listed are the 14 major food allergens, they must be emphasised in a bold font, an underlined font, contrasting colours or capital letters.
WHAT ARE THE 14 MAJOR FOOD ALLERGENS?
The major allergens that must be listed are:
● Cereals containing gluten (oats and barley)
● Crustaceans (crabs, lobster, prawns)
● Molluscs (oysters and mussels)
● Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (for concentrations above ten parts per million)
● Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamias, pistachios)
HOW SHOULD YOU IMPLEMENT THE CHANGES?
Failure to comply with Natasha’s Law is a serious matter. You could face legal action, as well as suffer from reputational damage as seen at Pret A Manger. It’s important for businesses to take early steps to prepare for the introduction of allergen labelling requirements.
Ensure that all staff have appropriate training on the handling of PPDS foods. Make sure they’re aware of the requirements and create internal processes to ensure that staff are complying with Natasha’s Law.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PRODUCTS TO PRINT CUSTOM LABELS FOR FOOD PRODUCTS?
If you don’t already have a printer that is suitable for custom food labels, we would suggest investing in one. With the correct printer and software, you can create a database of your products so you can print custom labels for food products on command without it becoming costly or time consuming.
The Brother VC-500W printer is perfect for small food businesses to create printable food allergy labels. It is a small label printer and can fit neatly on a countertop or desktop. The software (such as CardExchange) can be used to create a database of all your food products and the nutritional facts. This can then be printed to create custom food allergy warning labels that you can stick on your product packaging with ease.