Getting ready for Natasha's Law
‘Natasha’s Law’ – following the tragic death of the teenager, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse – is the first new legislation around allergen management passed in the House of commons since the introduction of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation in 2014.
After Natasha suffered a fatal anaphylaxis reaction from eating a sandwich from Pret a Manger that, unbeknown to her, contained sesame seeds, her parents fought for a change in the law to tighten up allergen management.
Until now only foods which are packaged and are sold off-site (such as in a supermarket) have to label the ingredients.
The new law will require foodservice providers and catering teams to provide full ingredient labelling on foods Prepacked for Direct Sale (PPDS).
The law will come into force in October 2021, so now is the time for caterers to plan and get ready to ensure they have the necessary training, processes, technology and support in place.
What are Prepacked Foods for Direct Sale?
The Food Standards Agency defines Pre-Packed Foods for Direct Sale (PPDS) as food that is packed before being offered for sale by the same food ‘business’ to the final consumer:
- i) on the same premises; or
- ii) on the same site; or
- iii) on other premises if the food is offered for sale from a moveable and/or temporary premises (such as marquees, market stalls, mobile sales vehicles) and the food is offered for sale by the same food business who packed it.
Food is considered prepacked when it is put into packaging before being offered for sale and:
- is either fully or partly enclosed by the packaging; and
- cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging; and
- is ready for sale to the final consumer.
Prepacked Foods for Direct Sale (PPDS):
- Sandwiches placed into packaging by the food business and sold from the same premises.
- Sandwiches placed into packaging for a school trip or sport event
- Foods packaged and then taken by the same operator to their market stall to sell.
- A butcher who makes burgers or sausages which are prepacked to be sold on the same premises.
- Foods packed by a food business to be sold in its retail units located within the same building complex as the premises where the food was packed such as a train station, hospital, university or holiday park.
Food that would not be PPDS:
- Open hot dog in a cardboard tray (as can be altered before serving)
- Sandwiches placed on wooden board for customers to help themselves to
- Prepared sandwich or burger that is made and wrapped after taking an order
- Meals served individually in schools from hot counter
- Cakes/ cookies loose in cakes stands that would be put into bags or onto plates to serve
What does Full Labelling involve?
According to the new rules, PPDS food will have to have the following information clearly displayed on the packaging or a label attached:
- The name of the food AND
- an ingredients list including allergenic ingredients. The allergenic ingredients within the food must be emphasised every time they appear in the ingredients list (in the same way as labels on pre-packed foods). For example, the allergens in the food can be listed in bold, in capital letters, in contrasting colours or underlined.
How caterers can manage the new law
The new law will mean that all caterers need to consider how to label any foods packaged on site to ensure the information is accurate. Now would be a good time to start thinking about what products would fall into the PPDS category and start to consider if any changes to process or any training or tech support will be required, so that you can be ready in advance of 1 October 2021.
Foodservice and catering operations will need to consider the implications of labelling specific allergens in situations where there is any risk of cross-contamination, such as in the ‘May Contain’ statements on labels. Current law requires businesses to manage cross-contamination risks effectively but recognises that where risk cannot be removed it is acceptable to communicate this to consumers.
allmanhall are on hand to help and we suggest starting with training and education of your catering team, as the first step. A compliance audit may also be a consideration, once catering operations re-open.
Take home message – what should caterers do now?
- Educate and train your team on the new legislation
- Plan an allergen and compliance audit
- Start looking at which foods currently served would fall into the PPDS category and therefore be included under the new law
- Start to consider how labelling would be done, in the most accurate but time effective way
- Consider if any of the PPDS products would have a risk of cross contamination and if a ‘May Contain’ statement is also needed in the label
To read the full guidance, see the Food Standards Agency’s ‘Food allergen labelling and information requirements Technical Guidance’ , published in June 2020: