Natasha’s Law: What Is It and What Does It Mean for Allergy Families?
Introduced this winter, Natasha’s Law stipulates firmer rules for prepackaged for direct sale food
This winter, Natasha’s Law was introduced in the UK meaning that all food businesses must now provide full ingredient lists and allergen labelling information on foods prepackaged for direct sale on site. The amendment was introduced on 1st October following a lobbying group led by the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse. Natasha sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 15 after eating a sandwich that didn’t label full allergen information, nor was it legally obliged to at the time.
Following Natasha’s passing, her family decided to focus their time on making sure this wouldn’t happen again, asking for stronger laws on food labelling to help those living with allergies make informed and safe choices. If you are an allergy family, you will know this worry all too well and how important it is for your loved ones to feel confident in the food that they buy. Before the introduction of Natasha’s Law in October, allergen information for prepackaged for direct sale food (PPDS) could be provided by any means including verbally via the staff – leaving lots of room for error.
What exactly is PPDS Food?
Well, it’s food that’s created and packaged on the premises e.g. a sandwich at a shop, or sausages at a butchers. With the new rules in place, there are now stricter labelling requirements across sectors from bakers to butchers to sandwich shops. PPDS food must now clearly display the name of the food on the label and a full ingredients list with allergens emphasised (for example in bold, italics or a different colour). Further examples of PPDS food include:
- Sandwiches and bakery products which are packed on site before ordering
- Fast food packed before it is ordered, such as a burger under a hot lamp
- 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
- Foods packaged and then sold elsewhere by the same operator at a market stall
- PPDS food provided in schools, care homes or hospitals and other similar settings
What needs to be on the label
The allergens that are required to be listed are the 14 main allergens, although of course there are more. These are currently: celery, cereals containing gluten (e.g. barley and oats), crustaceans (e.g. prawns, crabs and lobsters), eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs (e.g. mussels and oysters), mustard, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million) and tree nuts (e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts). Labels now need to look like the example below:
To help businesses with the transition of the new rules, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been working with local authorities and communicating with businesses to smoothly support the introduction of the new legislation and has a wealth of resources here. From examples of what labels should look like and which businesses will be affected, the FSA helps support all food safety issues in England, Wales and Ireland. You can hear more about this new law that’s been made possible by Natasha’s family in their interview in the video below and how food businesses across the UK are coping with the new rules:
How the restaurant industry can improve
Despite these new laws coming in, they still won’t affect allergen labelling for restaurant menus, which has a separate lobbying campaign ongoing to help introduce stricter regulations for allergen communication at restaurants. Known as Owen’s Law, this newer campaign has been launched in memory of Owen Carey who sadly died at the age of 18 in 2017 when he unknowingly ate buttermilk at a burger restaurant and had a fatal reaction as a result of his dairy allergy.
Owen’s family are now campaigning for the top 14 allergens to be listed on restaurant menus and communicated clearly – as it stands they can be communicated through a variety of means, including verbally, to meet the standards required.
At Tom Pom Organic we know first-hand the challenges and difficulties that can be faced by families and individuals handling allergies and wanting to enjoy simple pleasures in life such as eating out and ordering takeaways with confidence. If you have a little one with an allergy, one of the best things you can do is to teach them from a young age to ask about their allergy. Whether you’re at a restaurant or ordering a takeaway when your little one is able to ask, help them to build confidence. Many restaurants and food businesses still rely on those living with allergies to come forward and be responsible, check labels and always ask. Even if it’s a restaurant or food business you usually visit, ingredients can change and it’s always best to be cautious! The FSA has also been using newer, innovative channels like TikTok to reach teenagers living with allergies, to help them navigate this responsibility as they grow! See one of their videos below:
With new legislation like Natasha’s Law, and maybe one day Owen’s Law, the support for those living with allergies will become better and better and we can only hope that when our little ones are all grown up it’ll be even more common to always ask about allergies with further measures in place to prevent any more tragedies. And as a further tribute to Natasha’s legacy, her family have now established the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation. Their mission? To try and prevent and end allergic disease and enact life-saving changes with law and policies. They will also be funding scientific research to support breakthroughs in understanding allergies for future families. The family are also now campaigning for proper allergy representation. As it stands, there’s no one single person who is responsible for allergies in the NHS or the Department of Health and Natasha’s family is now calling for greater, specialised support to tackle the growing allergy epidemic in the UK.
The Tom Pom Guarantee
We’re proud at Tom Pom to be allergy-friendly and organic, meaning you can provide delicious and nutritious, quality baby food for your little ones even when short on time, and with the confidence that you won’t be exposing your baby to any unknown ingredients.
To find out more about Natasha’s Law and the Foundation you can visit the website here, and sign-up for updates on the latest allergy news and legislations. A cause close to our hearts at Tom Pom HQ we’ll continue to keep our blogs updated with the latest allergy news.