Did you know the allergy labelling law changes on 1st October?
The seriousness of food allergies continues to be highlighted as we regularly see case after case appearing in the news. On average ten people die in the UK every year because of food allergies. There are a further 1500 asthma deaths each year and some of those are believed to be triggered by a food allergy.
On investigation, often the failings are down to a combination of inaccurate or insufficient labelling and lack of staff knowledge or understanding.
Are you aware and ready for the allergy labelling law which will change on the 1st of October? This has come about following the tragic case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse. Natasha died after having a severe allergic reaction to sesame seeds, after eating a baguette bought from Pret a Manger in 2016. The coroner strongly criticised the labelling of the products and there were also concerns about the monitoring and corrective actions of previous incidents. It was found that the company had been told of other cases of similar reactions in the year leading up to Natasha’s death.
I was very surprised when I visited a different high street chain this week to find that there is only a sticker on the pre-packaged food advising the consumer to ask about allergy information from staff. Although the law hasn’t come into effect yet, there are less than five months to go and I would like to think that the large national chains would be ahead of the game or to at least label the food to meet moral obligations.
The Food Standards Agency has put together some great information to help food businesses with the new law including examples of where it might or might not apply. This information can be accessed here.
Does the law affect you?
This change in the law affects all food that is pre-packed for direct sale to the consumer. The Food Standards agency have set up a useful tool to help you decide whether this law will affect the food that you serve or not. It can be accessed via this link.
Essentially this law will affect you if you make and prepack food for sale on site, e.g., you make sandwiches and place them in a fridge and the customer chooses from the packaged selection.
What is needed?
The following information must be included on the packaging:
What is not included in the law?
If the customer orders unpackaged food, either on display or made to order and you then package it in front of them, it remains classified as unpackaged food. You still need to provide allergy information; however, it does not need to be placed on the packaging. This information can be provided in a different way, e.g., using an allergy folder or verbally.
If the customer orders food over the phone or through a website, e.g., a takeaway. Again, allergy information must still be provided both at point of sale, e.g., over the phone or on the website and on collection or delivery of the food.
One of the biggest groups of people at risk of food allergies are children and young people. As teenagers and young adults start to become more independent, they have to learn to manage their allergies themselves. Evidence suggests that this group are also least likely to speak to a business about their food allergy. This may be because they have eaten there before and don’t feel it’s necessary, it may be because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves in a social situation. Whatever the reason, this increases their risk.
A campaign was launched to ‘Speak Up for Food Allergies’, aimed at encouraging young people to speak to businesses.
However, what can you as a business do to encourage them to talk to you about their food allergies?
Some ideas might be to:
The more information we have about a person’s needs, the easier it is for us to help keep them safe.
Rod Carver - Level 3 Food Safety Attendee
Academy Training Manager