Natasha’s Law now in force across UK but more still needs to be done
The parents of teenager, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died aged 15 from a severe food allergy, have welcomed a new law in her name designed to protect others from harm but issue a reminder that more work remains to be done.
Pre-packaged sandwiches will now need to display a full ingredients list
Natasha’s law has come into force across the UK today (Friday 1 October 2021) and requires all food retailers to display full ingredients and allergen labelling on every food item made on the premises and pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS). The 14 major allergens must be emphasised within the list.
The move follows the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016. Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, from west London, campaigned for the change in the law after the food labelling loophole, which meant Natasha was completely unaware that the baguette she ate contained sesame (which was allergic to), was highlighted at an inquest into her death in 2018.
With this new law now in effect, millions of people living with food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease across the UK will be able to make safer choices about their food.
“Natasha’s Law is vital to protect the two to three million people in the UK living with food allergies from life-threatening allergic reactions. It is about saving lives and marks a major milestone in our campaign to support people in this country with food allergies,” said Nadim.
Products that will now need to be labelled include pre-wrapped sandwiches, fast food that’s already in packaging before a customer places their order, and supermarket items such as cheeses and meat from the deli counter that are already wrapped and ready to be served.
“This change in the law brings greater transparency about the foods people are buying and eating; it will give people with food allergies confidence when they are buying pre-packaged food for direct sale such as sandwiches and salads. Everyone should be able to consume food safely,” added Nadim.
The new law applies to foods packaged on the same site at which they are sold before being ordered; foods pre-packaged elsewhere already require full ingredients labelling, with allergens emphasised in the list.
Natasha’s Law is vital to protect the two to three million people in the UK living with food allergies from life-threatening allergic reactions.
The law also creates more consistency in the labelling of pre-packed products and gives more protection for people with food allergies and intolerances when purchasing ‘grab and go’ foods
“If these changes drive down the number of hospital admissions caused by food allergies, which have seen a threefold increase over the last twenty years, and prevent further tragic deaths such as Natasha’s, that can only be a positive thing,” commented Emily Miles, chief executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
“I understand how difficult the past 18 months have been for food businesses, and I am grateful for the effort that so many have made to prepare for the changes and enable people to make safe decisions about the food they eat.”
At the inquest into Natasha’s death, the coroner concluded that had the baguette containing hidden sesame seeds that Natasha consumed, been properly labelled, she would not have eaten it.
“Natasha would not have died,” said Tanya. “Natasha was always extremely careful to check the food labels and until that terrible day in 2016 hadn’t had a severe allergic reaction for over nine years.
“Nothing can bring Natasha back, and we have to live with that reality every day, but we know in our hearts that Natasha would be very proud that a new law in her name will help to protect others.
“Natasha was a very public-spirited young woman – she wanted to make a difference, so this feels like a fitting tribute to her. However, there is still so much more to do to support people with food allergies including the appointment of an Allergy Tsar, to act as a champion for people with allergies to ensure they receive correct and appropriate support including joined up health care to prevent avoidable deaths and ill health.”
Link to Allergy Tsar petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/589716.
For more information about Natasha’s Law, visit: www.food.gov.uk/businessguidance/introduction-to-allergen-labelling-changes-ppds.
Examples of PPDS items can include:
- Sandwiches, pies, burgers, ready meals or cakes/baked goods prepared and packaged by a food business before the consumer selects them
- Foods prepared and packaged and sold at a market stall
- Wrapped deli counter goods such as cheese and meats, and boxed salads placed on a refrigerated shelf prior to sale
- Freshly made pizza or boxed salads from a supermarket deli counter which are packed on site and refrigerated prior to sale
- Mixed bags of sweets which are made up, packaged and sold on the same premises or from a mobile unit such as an ice cream van.
Fourteen key allergens which must be clearly identifiable by law:
- Cereals containing gluten
- Milk (including lactose)
- Sulphur dioxide and/or sulphites